News / Africa

South Sudan Displaced Mark Independence Day In Safety of UN Camps

People fled violence in Juba in December and sought shelter inside U.N. staff compounds like this one in Juba, which rapidly became camps for the displaced.
People fled violence in Juba in December and sought shelter inside U.N. staff compounds like this one in Juba, which rapidly became camps for the displaced.
Mugume Davis Rwakaringi

Members of one group of South Sudanese stayed away from Wednesday's independence day celebrations in Juba.

Some of  the thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) who fled to U.N. compounds when fighting broke out in December say they have mixed feelings about marking the nation’s third birthday.

William Bol, 35, is one of them. When fighting broke out seven months ago, he ran for his life and found shelter at the U.N. Mission in South Sudan's (UNMISS) compound in Tongping. Since then, the compound has become an overcrowded camp for displaced persons, many of whom are still too frightened to go back to their homes in spite of the government's assurances that they face no danger if they do.

Even though Bol has been living on handouts from the U.N. and aid agencies since December, he said South Sudan’s independence is worth celebrating. The question for him is where and how to mark the occasion.

“We do not like to go outside because crisis is still going on there," Bol told South Sudan in Focus.

"We'll buy a soda and we'll celebrate July 9 in the UNMISS camp. It is a big day for us. It's for all people in South Sudan, not for just one person,” he said. He said he would have loved to celebrate with the rest of the country at events but he can't go beyond the camp’s barbed wire fences to see the marching bands and traditional dancers putting on a show in Juba's Independence.

 

Bol said, “When we go outside, people still want to kill us, there on the road.”

Important day

Another IDP, Ter James, said he would have celebrated his country's 
independence no matter where he was.

"It is important for every South Sudanese to celebrate this wonderful day. Independence day does not need the government people to celebrate it," said James, who lost some of his relatives when fighting erupted in Juba in December.

James spent South Sudan's independence reflecting on his loss and trying to make sense of the continuing crisis. “I have to say this... the atrocities, the death, the massacre that happened here in Juba...  we need accountability," he said.

James Dhiew, 38, refused to join in the festivities, either inside the camp or outside of its walls. “We are suffering here in the UNMISS camp. There is nothing worth celebrating this 9th of July," he said.

Reason to throw a party

In spite of the threat of famine and more than 1.5 millon homeless, there are those outside to camps who insisted there was good reason to celebrate.

Garang Madut is from Warrap state, a fregion which has remained largely peaceful during the seven months of fighting. He and others called on those sheltered inside the camps to come out in the streets and mark the country’s third birthday with them.

“I feel happy because we are now enjoying our independence... and I should be very happy when they are joining us to enjoy our independence day because they are our brothers and sisters,” he said.

This year, many IDPs remained in the safety of the U.N. camps.  Next year, they and their compatriots hope the camps will no longer exist.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid