- South Sudan
- Conflicts and Disasters
‘On 22nd December, I received a call from my cousin. She was in Mingkaman, in Awerial County, with other family members and friends. She was desperate to come to Juba and leave the insecurity behind. They had travelled from Bor by boat and were now settled at Mingkaman. I rented a truck and drove for four hours to Mingkaman to find them and bring them back to Juba. Amongst the people I drove back with me were two young ladies, Nyaual and Nyol. I brought them to my house in Lologo and they stayed with me for two weeks. I had asked them whether they want to stay with me or with their Nuer relatives. They chose to stay with me.
Their father is a Nuer and is involved in the fighting. When his phone was finally working, I dialled his number so his daughters could speak to him. They had been very worried about him.
‘Where are you dad?’ Nyaual asked.
‘I am in Bor, looking for you. I had looked everywhere and failed to find you. Where are you?’
‘We’re in Juba staying with Uncle Joseph. Are you coming or will you remain in Bor?’
‘I wish I could, but I cannot come at this point. I am staying in Bor.’
This is not a conversation that a daughter should be having with her father at any point in her life. After he confirmed that he would be staying in Bor, they started crying. They couldn’t understand.
‘Why are you fighting in this war? Don’t you know that our uncle, the man taking care of us, is a Dinka? Don’t you know you are fighting his people?’ Nyaual asked her father.
‘I know that. I understand, but this is not my war. I do not want to fight in this war but I have no choice because I am Nuer. If I do not fight, the rest will not accept me,’ he said.
‘Aren’t you afraid that what you’re doing will put us in danger? Don’t you think that if you’re killing his people, maybe uncle’s people will come and kill us too?’
‘No. You are safe with Uncle Joseph. You will be alright.’
He was right. Nyual and Nyol are safe. They are like my daughters and I would never let anything bad happen to them. I do not feel right about what is happening. Some of my family members and close friends have been killed. They had nothing to do with the conflict but lost their lives either way. Many of my Nuer friends keep calling me, in remorse, apologising for events that are not in their hands, but of which they feel responsible for. This is not a tribal conflict but a political one, and innocent people should be left out of it.
I feel angry, but I would save those girls again. Even if my people are killed, I would rather save a life, any life, than take one.’
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