Christian children at refugee camps in Sudan are not being provided with food unless they recite Islamic prayers, sources have told the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
A source, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, told ACN that Christian refugees from South Sudan are "in a terrible situation" in refugee camps in Sudan.
"We have heard stories where children are conditioned to say Islamic prayers before [being] given food. This is not right. These children are Christian. They should be respected for that," the ACN source said, as reported by Independent Catholic News.
The source has estimated that there are as many as 700,000 South Sudanese Christian refugees in Sudan, adding that many are confined to the camps and not allowed to go further north to the cities.
Another report received by ACN indicated that refugee families are having a hard time surviving on food provided by the government. Parents are forced to seek provisions in the local market because a monthly food parcel for a family only lasts for a little more than two weeks. Some of the items provided by U.N. are sold in the market, and many still bear the logos of UNICEF or UNHCR.
ACN's source further explained that the Sudanese government had blocked the efforts of charities who are providing emergency assistance to refugees at the camp.
"We have heard the story that the government does not allow any other agencies to give support including the Church agencies. The government knows very well that the Church is the body in the world that supports enormously the needy around the world. The Muslim community have a charity, so the Christians have a charity, so that possibility should be given so that the people are supported," he said.
Dr. John Newton, who works with ACN, said he hopes that the refugee children would not be conditioned into abandoning Christianity. He called on other Christians to pray for peace and stability in South Sudan so that the refugees can return to their homes and resume their lives as they were before the conflict started.
The conflict in South Sudan stems from a feud between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar. The feud became a full-blown inter-ethnic war in 2013, when soldiers loyal to Kiir's Dinka tribe clashed with rebels aligned with Machar's Nuer tribe in villages and towns.
According to the UNHCR, as many as 1 million South Sudanese refugees have fled across the border into northern Uganda since the start of the conflict. It has been estimated that 60 percent of the refugees are children, many of whom are unaccompanied minors who have suffered violence.