Franklin Graham has issued an emergency call to prayer for South Sudan after a Samaritan’s Purse refugee camp in Yida, South Sudan, was bombed on Thursday at approximately 3:20 p.m. local time.
“These people are in need of immediate prayer,” said Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse. “Please pray for safety for the refugees and for our staff.”
Six days ago, Graham visited the Yida refugee camp on his way to Hyderabad, India, where he is preaching four nights at the Nov. 10-13 Hyderabad Festival.
On Thursday afternoon, four bombs were reportedly dropped on the Yida camp, although the one falling on a schoolhouse area, with hundreds of school children nearby, did not explode.
The bomb falling on a marketplace and two landing on the fringe of the camp detonated, but thankfully no casualties have been reported. All Samaritan’s Purse staff have been accounted for and are safe.
“Pray for peace to come to this troubled region,” Graham wrote in an e-mail prayer alert. “Most of all, please pray that the people we are helping will find lasting hope in Jesus Christ.”
According to the Reuters news agency, Taban Deng, governor of Unity State, accused the government of Sudan of carrying out the attacks.
“I applaud the White House for issuing a statement condemning the attacks, but we need to do more,” Graham said in a statement released Friday. “I urge the United States and the international community to enforce a no-fly zone in the area to protect not only the innocent civilians there but also those who are trying to help them.”
The BGEA has been involved in Sudan for years and Samaritan’s Purse has been working in Sudan since 1993, rebuilding 425 churches since 2005, many in remote villages.
In recent months since South Sudan’s Independence Day in July, village churches in the Nuba Mountains, located north of the Sudan-South Sudan border, have been bombed or burned down. Over 23,000 people fled the Nuba Mountains, which contain almost no roads for motor vehicles, to the Yida camp for refuge because of the ongoing fighting.
One Samaritan’s Purse worker in South Sudan describe the state of the Nuba people in the Yida camp after the bombing as “traumatized and terrorized.”
“Pray for peace,” the worker said. “And that the international community would step in to help and protect them.”
According to Graham’s statement, “The day of the bombing, the United Nations was delivering its first helicopter relief flight with 12 tons of food, which Samaritan’s Purse had been requesting.
“The bombing took place right after the U.N. delivered the food. Bombing U.N. food distribution points was a tactic the government in the North had used in its civil war against the South.”
Since early August, a Samaritan’s Purse DC-3 cargo plan has airlifted more than 420 tons of food staples and other supplies to the refugees — who are stranded in a swampy area south of the border — with material support from the U.N.’s World Food Program.
“We are at the point now where we’re not going to be able to sustain this relief effort without others stepping up and helping,” Graham said. “This work is going on 24/7. Our team can’t take a day off.”