Pope Francis to tour South Sudan and DRC in July

Pope Francis is set to tour the Democratic Republic of Congo on the 2-5 July and later visit South Sudan on 5-7 July this year.

This confirmation follows repeated delays in his trip due to security concerns in South Sudan emerging from a post-independence civil war.

In July 2011, South Sudan officially split from Sudan, but civil war erupted two years later, causing 400,000 deaths. The two main sides signed a peace deal in 2018.

Analysts say, while the peace deal halted horrific violence, there are several unresolved issues such as stalled reunification of the national army that could plunge the country back into widespread conflict.

The government has declared a state of siege and placed some provinces under martial law to tackle armed groups carrying out attacks in the region. They include the ISIL-linked Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), against which Congo and Uganda are currently carrying out a joint military operation.

In the DRC, security is not expected to be an issue in Kinshasa, but it may be in Goma, which is in the restive eastern region. Italy’s ambassador, his bodyguard and driver were killed in an ambush north of Goma last year.

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