Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby flies with MAF on visit to refugee camps

Published: 5 Aug 2017

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby flies with MAF on visit to refugee camps

MAF were honoured to fly the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Archbishop of Uganda the Most Rev Stanley Ntagali on a visit to Moyo and Adjumani refugee camps this week.

The Archbishop visited the two refugee camps in northern Uganda, which are home to 900,000 of South Sudan’s 1.9 million refugees, to bring hope and encouragement and raise awareness of the tragic plight of the refugees that continue to arrive daily in Uganda. 

‘Justin Welby, flew with us to Moyo and Adjumani in 5X-SCO’ said Pilot Rembrandt Rodenburg, who carried out the flight. ‘He was accompanied by his wife and by the archbishop of Uganda the Most Rev Stanley Ntagali, and by frequent MAF flier Bishop Anthony Poggo. The British High Commissioner Peter West was on board, as well as Erlend Linklater from DFID. To complete the passenger-list we had two reporters from the BBC on board’

A welcome for South Sudan's refugees

In Moyo and Adjumani Justin Welby visited the camps inhabitants, and witnessed first-hand the challenges faced by refugee rebuilding their lives.

The BBC’s Religious Affairs Correspondent Martin Bashir gave an account of the visit for BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme, describing how Archbishop Justin was invited to visit a school and view one of the camps basic dwellings. click here 

Image credit Dave Forney

Uganda has been widely praised for the assistance it has offered refugees, particularly those fleeing the ongoing conflict in South Sudan, and this was acknowledged by Archbishop Welby.

As Uganda heads towards the million refugee milestone, the changing landscape of Uganda’s refugee camps is clearly visible from the air. The spacious plots allocated to each family stand in stark contrast to contrast to the tightly packed rows of tents witnessed in other places.

It is a 'marked contrast to the xenophobic and racist reaction of some European nations to asylum seekers and refugees', Justin Welby told Martin Bashir.

Frequent Fliers

MAF flew the Welbys during their last visit to South Sudan and Uganda, in January 2014, soon after hostilities in the fledgling nation began. The archbishop prayed at a mass grave in the town of Bor and witnessed scenes of devastation in one of the earliest phases of the South Sudanese Civil War.

Three and a half years later, close to four million people have been uprooted and displaced by the conflict with an even higher numbers of people in acute humanitarian need. 

Travelling with the Welbys this week was South Sudanese Bishop Anthony Poggo, who join the team at Lambeth Palace as Advisor on Anglican Communion Affairs in October 2016.

Bishop Poggo is a familiar face with MAF having flown with MAF more than 200 times in roles with Scripture Union, ACROSS and latterly as the Bishop of Kajo-Keji, with the Episcopal Church of South Sudan. He was warming welcomed aboard the Cessna Grand Caravan, known affectionately known as ‘Scotty’ in Kajjansi Airfield.

Bishop Poggo’s close links with to the South Sudan Diorcese of Kajo Keji, located just across the Ugandan border, made the visit was especially poignant. The Bishop who told reporters from the Church Times that ‘90 per cent of the population of his former diocese had been forced into Uganda in the past year. “This shows you . . . the effect the conflict is having on the population in that region,” he said.

Call to prayer

Archbishop Welby extended his thanks and greeting to the whole MAF Team on his return to Kajjansi airport. 

Reflecting on his interactions with the archbishop Pilot Rembrandt Rodenburg said, ‘though high in hierarchy he is a humble man, with a strong focus for the poor and needy, and he’s shown that throughout the day.’

The Archbishop issued a call to pray for peace in South Sudan in response to what he saw in northern Uganda. 

It is a call that MAF will be heeding as we continue to practically support the ministry of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Church of Uganda and Episcopal Church of South Sudan - along with the many humanitarian and mission partners serving refugee need in northern Uganda.

Pray for South Sudan