Juba, South Sudan — Pope Francis during his three-day visit to South Sudan over the weekend recognized Sara Beysolow Nyanti’s work as the United Nations Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, Resident Coordinator, and also Humanitarian Coordinator of the East African nation. In a surprise move by the Vatican to single out Madam Nyanti, he said:
“I would like to thank Deputy Special Representative Sara Beysolow Nyanti for telling us that today represents an opportunity for people to realize what has been going on for years in this country,’’ the leader of the Roman Catholic Church said. “I would like to thank you above all because you and many others did not sit around analyzing the situation but went straight to work. You, Madam, have traveled throughout the country. You have looked into the eyes of mothers and witnessed the pain they feel for the situation of their children. I was moved when you said that, despite all that they are suffering, smiles and hope have never faded from their faces.’
A picture of Madam Beysolow Nyanti holding a young Sudanese girl is featured on the Pope’s official Instagram page, along with a video that also features her greeting him.
Pope Francis agreed with Madam Beysolow Nyanti that mothers and women are the key to transforming South Sudan. Still addressing Madam Nyanti, Pope Francis continued: “If they receive proper opportunities, through their industriousness and their natural gift of protecting life, they will have the ability to change the face of South Sudan,’’ Pope Francis said. “I ask you and all the people of these lands, to ensure that women are protected, respected, valued and honored.’’
Madam Beysolow Nyanti told Pope Francis that his visit was a “momentous opportunity’’ to draw attention to the situation in South Sudan. For over a decade, the South Sudanese people have experienced conflict, social and political instability, climate shocks, violence, displacement, food insecurity, lack of education opportunities and access to health care.
She told Pope Francis that since her arrival in South Sudan in January 2022, she has traveled across the country and witnessed firsthand people’s suffering. She recounted the heart-to-heart conversations she had with young people, mothers, community leaders and the heartbreaking stories of children. The cumulative impact of four consecutive years of above-normal rainfall has destroyed lives and livelihoods.
Despite the increasing needs of the people, humanitarian support is declining, she said. To respond to the crisis, humanitarian partners will need $1.7 billion to meet the needs of the nation’s 6.8 million people, Madam Beysolow Nyanti said.
Humanitarian workers, she said, must make difficult choices every day because of the lack of resources.
“Your holiness, you represent a symbol of hope for millions of people across the globe and you bring with you a message of peace to South Sudan,’’ she said. “Through your visit my hope is renewed. If we all work together, the people of South Sudan can achieve peace and realize the potential of their incredible country.’’
The Pope’s visit (Feb. 3-5) was aimed at encouraging South Sudan’s political leaders to implement the 2018 peace accord ending the civil war after the overwhelmingly Christian country gained independence from the mostly Muslim Sudan in 2011.
Madam Beysolow Nyanti, the highest-ranking Liberian in the United Nations, gave the Pope a detailed account of the humanitarian situation in Africa’s youngest republic which is struggling to rebuild after a brutal civil war that killed nearly 400,000 people and displaced millions.