- South Sudan
- Conflicts and Disasters
“Before Oxfam came in to help us, we went through some rough times.”
Nyanuer Gatlook, her three sons and her daughter live in Kule refugee camp, located in the Gambella region in western Ethiopia. They fled the violence in South Sudan, their home country. After witnessing close relatives being shot to death, they left. On June 13th 2015, after five long and tiresome days walking, they reached Ethiopia, and were transferred to Kule camp, already hosting over 50,000 refugees.
She recalls the first few months at the camp: “We were given a shelter very far away from other sites, which were occupied by the early arrivals. Our site did not have access to water and sanitation facilities. It was particularly hard on my children, who repeatedly suffered from diarrhea. I had to travel at least one hour to get water. Fetching water was the main activity.”
“Thank God this did not last long. Oxfam came in to help us with our water issues. We were also given tablets to clean the water we drink. Since then, my family and I became healthier and happier. We were also given family latrines and we are now practicing safe sanitation as opposed to defecating in the forest. We are able to drink clean water, keep utensils and kids clean at all times. We received hygiene education especially on how to wash our hands and when. This was very useful particularly for my children who are happily playing now.”
Since the start of the conflict in South Sudan in December 2013, large numbers of people have fled to neighbouring countries. Reports indicate that the fighting will keep on displacing more and more people. Aid agencies like Oxfam will have to be ready to deliver the necessary aid for those in dire need of safety, shelter, medication and water. Oxfam has already been providing emergency water supply and sanitation facilities to over 100,000 refugees in Kule and Terkidi camps with financial support from ECHO.
Nyanuer awaits for a better and peaceful South Sudan as she leads a hopeful camp life in Ethiopia. “I am grateful for the support from Oxfam and other organizations. My family and I had a good reception but, if peace is restored in South Sudan, I long to go back home. I hope the war will stabilize soon so that we will reunite with our families, relatives and friends there.”
Following decades of fighting, South Sudan became an independent state in July 2011. There was high expectation for growth and many believed they would not see another conflict in the country they fought so hard and so long for. But on December 15, 2013, a conflict erupted in Juba, the capital. It quickly became a national, political and ethnic crisis.
Over two million had to flee from their homes. Today, according to the United Nations, there are still over 1.6 million internally displaced people in the country.
Follow Oxfam in South Sudan @OxfamSouthSudan