A VICAR’S son has escaped a war-torn African country to make it back to Wearside in time for Christmas.
Ben Bartlett, son of the Revd Canon Dr Alan Barlett, spent five days trying to flee heavy fighting in South Sudan.
The 23-year-old charity worker and his colleagues from Tearfund relief agency made four attempts to leave the capital Juba, as the political situation in the country worsened this week. But on Saturday, a relieved Ben landed at Newcastle International Airport.
Father Alan, Vicar of St Giles’ in Gilesgate and Priest in Charge of St Mary’s Sherburn and St Cuthbert’s Shadforth, said: “The first we knew of this was talking with him on Skype on Monday morning with the sound of machine gun fire in the background. It was very scary for him and for us.”
Ben, a project support officer for the Christian group, was due to fly home on Tuesday last week, but was woken on Sunday night by the sound of armed fighting near the Tearfund compound in Juba.
He said: “I was woken by the sound of heavy gunfire and shelling, and buildings were shaking from the vibrations of tank and mortar fire.”
Ben and colleagues spent a day lying low in their compound before their escape.