An infusion of $1.1 million will benefit humanitarian programs, the resettlement of refugees and internally displaced people, and peacebuilding efforts in violence-ravaged communities in South Sudan under a program initiated by the Italian bishops conference.

Spread over three years, the gift coincides with South Sudan's eighth anniversary of independence and will aid the country's recovery from a deadly civil war, said Nicoletta Sabbetti, East Africa regional coordinator for Caritas Italy.

The program will be coordinated through Caritas South Sudan and the church's umbrella humanitarian aid agency, Caritas Internationalis.

Sabbetti told Catholic News Service that the funds will help vulnerable communities recover from conflict, overcome food shortages and promote peacebuilding in the seven dioceses of South Sudan.

"On the eighth anniversary of the independence from Sudan, Caritas Italy joined the appeal of Pope Francis and the bishops of South Sudan for promoting peace in the country," she said.

"The interventions will mainly concern food assistance and cash grants, shelter for vulnerable groups returned to the communities of origin, including hosts, distribution of seeds and agricultural tools, socio-economic support and rehabilitation, a program on reconciliation and peaceful coexistence," she explained.

Funds also will be used to provide basic health care and emergency services to residents and internally displaced persons in the dioceses of Malakal, Rumbek and Yei in collaboration with Doctors with Africa CUAMM.

Sabbetti said the program aims to strength local ambulance service, procurement and distribution of drugs and medical supplies, restoration of health care facilities and development of an alert system for health and nutritional emergencies.

South Sudanese voters decided in 2011 to form a separate nation from Sudan. South Sudan descended into a civil war in December 2013 following a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar.