News / Africa

South Sudanese Seek Refuge in Swamps

South Sudanese Displaced by Violence

x
  • South Sudanese girls sit by a tent in a camp for displaced persons in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Tongping, Juba, South Sudan, Feb. 19, 2014. 
  • A South Sudanese woman uses her phone as she leans against a barbed wire in a camp for displaced persons in the UNMISS compound in Tongping, Juba, South Sudan, Feb. 19, 2014. 
  • A South Sudanese girl washes dishes in a camp for displaced persons in the UNMISS compound in Tongping, Juba, South Sudan, Feb. 19, 2014. 
  • South Sudanese girls collect their laundry from a barbed wire in a camp for displaced persons in the UNMISS compound in Tongping, Juba, South Sudan, Feb. 19, 2014. 
  • A South Sudanese woman sits in a tent in a camp for displaced persons in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Tongping, Juba, Feb. 19, 2014. 
  • South Sudanese women collect garbage in a camp for displaced persons in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound in Tongping in Juba, South Sudan, Feb. 19, 2014. 
  • Shoes belonging to South Sudanese people displaced by the fighting wait to be cleaned in a camp for displaced persons in the UNMISS compound in Tongping, Juba, South Sudan, Feb. 19, 2014. 

South Sudanese Displaced by Violence

Hannah McNeish
— Tens of thousands of people in South Sudan's Unity state have been displaced by fighting between government and rebel forces which has left countless dead and whole villages ransacked and razed. Many fled to the only refuge left: the swamps. There, people are living as castaways; scavenging for food, drinking filthy water and sleeping in the rough.
 
When hundreds of men came to the small village of Pathiet, shooting at random, 40-year-old Nayyiel Gatluok grabbed her six children and whatever she could carry and ran for the swamps. 
 
Around 60 people were killed in an attack in Panyjiar county February 7 -- some were shot dead at home or as they plunged themselves into the swampy water.
 
Gatluok and some 100 other people are now living in dire conditions on the nearest island to Nyal -- a few hours wade from her home. Thousands of others are living on similar bits of land.
 
With only one mosquito net and a bed she managed to carry on her head, her family is living on the hot, dusty island with no proper shelter. Food consists of whatever falls from the few palm trees or what they can unearth from the swamps.
 
“Life is bad,” she said. All she has for her children is dirty water, and their only food is the roots of water lilies and palm fruits.
 
But she and others are determined to stay here until they are sure that what they call government troops -- along with some police and armed youth from neighboring Lakes state -- do not return to unleash more violence.
 
Others have said they have nothing to go back to; soldiers looted and torched their homes and stole around 6,500 cows.
 
South Sudan became independent in 2011, six years after the end of a 20-year civil war with Sudan. But since late December, a power struggle between the country's leaders has widened to a new war that has divided the country's communities by ethnicity.
 
No one thought that a fight between President Salva Kiir, who comes from the Dinka ethnic group, and his former vice president Riek Machar, from the Nuer, would ever reach the neutral villages of Panyjiar county.
 
For the only permanent charity here, called Sign of Hope, providing medical care is increasingly difficult. The group's director, Klaus Stieglitz, said the dispensary was burned down in the fighting and getting supplies for all the wounded is expensive.
 
“The challenge we are facing at the moment is access to our clinic. Road transport at the moment is practically impossible so we have to use air transport means. That is quite costly. We were facing a situation where the stocks in our clinics were very low, so we had no other choice than to fly to this place called Nyal, even though practically speaking it is lying on the frontline at the moment,” said Stieglitz.
 
Simon Kuol, the county coordinator for the state-run Relief and Rehabilitation Commission, is especially concerned about disease and starvation in a county whose harvests were lost last year to floods and this year to violence.
 
“We are fearing that they will be suffering, as they don't have mosquito nets, they don't have food, they don't have everything. The ground is ended to us here.  We have no other place to go, so we must pray for God, so that he will come,” said Kuol.
 
Peace talks being held in Ethiopia have provided little reprieve from atrocities and tragedy sweeping silently through the villages.

You May Like

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
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.
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.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid