OTTAWA — Senior clerics from three of the country's largest religious denominations are asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for more help for South Sudan.
The letter to Trudeau, released today, urges the federal Liberal government to increase aid to the country and to speak out about the food crisis there.
It's signed by Bishop Douglas Crosby, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops; Archbishop Fred J. Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada; and Rev. Douglas H. Rollwage, moderator of the 2016 general assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.
They commend the government on the help the government has already provided to South Sudan, but say more must be done.
The bishops want Trudeau to encourage the international community to provide more aid and to help protect human rights in South Sudan.
They also want him to work with Canadian businesses at home and abroad, as well as with the international community, to prevent weapons reaching South Sudan.
A spokesman for International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau says Canada is "one of the leading donors in South Sudan with programs covering humanitarian needs on the ground."
Louis Belanger says Canada recently announced $119 million in humanitarian funding for Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen and Somalia and has already provided some $37 million for urgent assistance.
The bishops say 20 million people face hunger in South Sudan, as well as Yemen, Somalia and Nigeria.
South Sudan is also in the throes of a human rights crisis, with atrocities committed by both government and opposition forces, they said.
"We are continuing to hear disturbing reports of gross violations of fundamental human rights being carried out with total impunity," the letter said.