Rwanda policy would have been difficult for my family, bishop says

A bishop who was forced into exile said his family would have found it “difficult” if they were subject to a similar version of the Government’s Rwanda policy when fleeing their home in the 1960s.

The Right Reverend Anthony Poggo and his siblings were taken by their father, an Anglican priest, and his mother from their home in South Sudan to Uganda in 1964 during the first Sudanese Civil War.

South Sudan crisis
Mr Poggo and his family fled South Sudan after the first Sudanese civil war broke out (Julien Behal/PA)

The family spent nine years there before returning in 1973, a year after the war concluded.

Bishop Poggo made the comments about the Government’s policy at a press conference on Tuesday, where he was unveiled as the new secretary general of the Anglican Communion.

The Anglican Communion is the world’s third largest Christian denomination. It comprises 42 churches, also known as provinces, which are active in more than 165 countries.

The Churches of the Anglican Communion are in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury and are structurally independent.

Outlining his thoughts, Bishop Poggo said: “In this role, as secretary general, I believe it would not be appropriate for me to be commenting on matters that are very specific to the provinces.

“However, it would be fair for me to, as a person who was a refugee, give a personal example.

“If in 1964, arriving on the Ugandan border, my family was asked to be transported thousands of miles away, to say, Egypt, it would have been difficult as it would have been harder for us to come back to South Sudan.”

Bishop Poggo added that he felt the issues refugees are facing across the world is high on the agenda for the Anglican community.

“Most parts of the Anglican community are experiencing some form of conflict, so the issue of reconciliation, working hard for peace, is of paramount importance,” he said.

“I know of provinces and prime ministers who are working very, very hard to bring peace in various areas. I can think of the eastern part of Congo, where there’s an ongoing conflict, and South Sudan, where I come from.

Archbishop of Canterbury reacts to Bishop Anthony appointment
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said he was ‘delighted’ with Bishop Poggo’s appointment (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“When you work for peace, it means you can then prevent more people being forced out of areas of origin in order to live.”

Bishop Poggo will take up his new five-year role from September.

He is succeeding the Most Reverend Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearn, who held his role since 2015, who will step down following the Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops later this month.

Bishop Poggo, the former Bishop of Kajo-Keji in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, is currently the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Adviser on Anglican Communion Affairs.

He added: “It is a huge privilege to be appointed as the next secretary general of the Anglican Communion. These are big shoes to fill.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, said: “I am delighted that Bishop Anthony Poggo has been appointed secretary general of the Anglican Communion.

“Over the past six years he has built up an immense knowledge of our global Communion and its people as my adviser on Anglican Communion Affairs.

“And in that time many people in the Communion have got to know Anthony too – and I am sure that they will join with me in welcoming his appointment.”