- South Sudan
I was in Bor, capital of the Jonglei State, in the center of South Sudan, on 18th December when the gunshots rang out. I could not believe this was happening again. I had survived the first war and did not expect to see another in my lifetime. I have built my life and invested too much, I felt like my heart was breaking. I did not want my children to go through another war, but it looked like it was happening that way.
Paul*, 70, is from the Dinka tribe. He was advised to run. «I did not want to leave. After all the work I had done building my life, I was not going to run away from it. If they wanted to kill me, then would kill me.»
I stayed in the school I worked at for two days. I was hungry, thirsty, tired and scared. I was found by a group of Nuer men in bad shape as I had been sick with a heart condition for a few months. They asked me why I was there and then took my hands and walked with me from the school to the nearest hospital. If it wasn’t for them, I would not be here today.
People are now referred to by their tribes. Either he’s a Dinnka, he’s a Nuer, he’s a Shilluk or he’s a Merle. This is what has divided out country. We are a nation of people not a nation of tribes. I hope to be alive when we start referring to ourselves as South Sudanese rather than Dinkas or Nuers.
*We previously published this story with the picture of another man named Zacharia. We apologize to you, Paul and Zacharia.
Photo: Mackenzie Knowles Coursin/Oxfam
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