Text – from the LWF website (http://www.lutheranworld.org/lwf/)
Bob Koepp (United States) was LWF Department for World Service Sudan relief coordinator in Khartoum 1987-88, and Sudan Emergency Operations Consortium coordinator based in Nairobi, Kenya, from 1988 to 1996.
For Lutheran World Information, Koepp reflects on LWF work during these years and looks ahead to a newly-independent South Sudan.
When I went to Khartoum, the LWF had a successful relief and development program based at Malakal in the Upper Nile region. The program had started in 1973 after the Addis Ababa Agreement that ended the first civil war.
Work in Remote Areas
The LWF purposely chose to work in the most difficult and remote part of South Sudan. It carried out a full range of humanitarian aid projects with dedicated staff, often working under extremely dangerous conditions.
The program continued even after the second civil war started in 1983, but by 1986 the LWF was forced to move its headquarters and international staff to Khartoum. In 1987, the LWF was asked to leave the country along with other church-based agencies.
The Sudan Airlift
After having to leave Sudan, the LWF took the lead in setting up the Nairobi, Kenya-based Sudan Emergency Operations Consortium (SEOC).
For nearly 10 years through SEOC, the LWF and its partners provided hundreds of thousands of tons of aid to war-torn areas of the South Sudan: the longest humanitarian airlift in history.
Despite the many operational challenges, the LWF worked untiringly to build relationships and never wavered in its efforts to help those in need. It was an excellent example of everyone working together for the common good.
Task of Nation-building
When South Sudan gets its long awaited independence, it will be the beginning of an era of extremely difficult hard work and nation-building.
Many have assisted South Sudan to gain this independence. Now they must continue to support South Sudan in its development as a new nation.
It is my hope that the LWF, working through national partners, can play a major role in this task.