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Pope Francis meets internally displaced people in South Sudan

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit (R) meets with Pope Francis (L) at Presidential Palace in Juba, South Sudan, on Friday. Photo by South Sudan Presidency Press Office /UPI
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit (R) meets with Pope Francis (L) at Presidential Palace in Juba, South Sudan, on Friday. Photo by South Sudan Presidency Press Office /UPI | License Photo

Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Pope Francis met with a group of internally displaced people in South Sudan's capital Juba on Saturday, calling them "the seed of a new South Sudan."

Delivering remarks before a gathering which included approximately 2,500 refugees at Freedom Hall in the war-torn country, Francis said, "Only with peace, stability and justice can there be development and social reintegration."

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Children from camps in Malakal, Juba and Bentiu gave testimonials at the gathering, which was also attended by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and United Nations Assistant Secretary General Sara Beysolow Nyanti.

"You, from all your different ethnic groups, you who have suffered and are still suffering, you who do not want to respond to evil with more evil, you, who choose fraternity and forgiveness, are even now cultivating a better tomorrow," Francis told the refugees.

"You are the seed of a new South Sudan, a seed for the fertile and lush growth of this country," he added.

South Sudan is the youngest internationally recognized state, having declared independence from Sudan in 2011. Two years later a civil war broke out, killing thousands and displacing millions.

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