Caught in South Sudan’s War: Dinka Juba govt abuses in Equatoria
Aug. 03 Featured, Uncategorized 1 comment       

BY: Audrey Wabwire, EastAfrica Press Officer, Human Rights Watch,
AUG/03/2017, SSN;

One hot Tuesday afternoon last January, about 10 South Sudanese
government soldiers came to Elizabeth’s village, Romoji, in Kajo Keji
county, near the Ugandan border. Many of the farming villages in her
area have become the front lines of South Sudan’s four-year civil war.

“The soldiers came close to the house around 4:00 pm,” said Elizabeth,
a tall, slender woman in her thirties. “I was cooking at home when my
son told me that soldiers had come. My husband Kristofer went outside
the house to check. They shot him.”

When her two sons, aged 10 and 5, went out to check on their father,
the soldiers shot them dead too. Elizabeth (not her real name), ran
from her home, hearing soldiers firing their guns. One soldier chased
her and caught her. He was tall, like the rest of them. He did not
speak to her, but threatened her with a knife and twisted her arm,
breaking it. Elizabeth believes he wanted to kill her, though she’s
not sure what stopped him. “Maybe they let me go because they had
already killed 3 people,” she says.

Despite a 2015 peace agreement, fighting between South Sudan’s
government and rebel forces has spread to the country’s southern
Greater Equatorias region, which had been somewhat insulated from the
war until late 2015 when it began to spread.

As in elsewhere in South Sudan, the fighting split communities down
ethnic lines – with mostly Dinka government troops and armed militia
targeting the mostly non-Dinka communities they suspected of
supporting the rebels.

The violence and abuses – largely committed by government forces
during counter-insurgency operations in western parts of the country
and in the southern Equatorias region – have displaced hundreds of
thousands in the last year alone, mostly to Uganda, which now hosts
almost a million South Sudanese.

Since the conflict started in December 2013, igniting in Juba and
spreading north, more than 2 million people fled to neighboring
countries with another 2 million displaced internally, making South
Sudan the largest humanitarian disaster in Africa today.

Soon after this attack, Elizabeth’s mother and her 3 remaining
children fled to Uganda. Elizabeth told Human Rights Watch how she hid
in a riverbed nearby for four days, drinking water with one hand
because her other arm was broken.

She said she ate soil to survive. When she came out of hiding, her
village was abandoned. She managed to find transport with assistance
from the UN, and came to Uganda, where she now lives with her family
as a refugee.

Elizabeth’s past torments her and her future hangs in the balance. In
May 2017, when Human Rights Watch spoke with Elizabeth, she could not
stop crying.

Five months later, she is clearly still traumatized – not just
psychologically but physically: her arm hangs limp by her side and it
is difficult for her to find a way to care for her family. She worries
about finding food and does not sleep at night, she says.

When she pauses in her story, Elizabeth stares listlessly into the
horizon. “My husband was a farmer, why did they kill him? With one
arm, how do I care for the children and my mother? I want to commit
suicide,” she says.

Although the camp offers some security, no one truly feels safe.
Family members who dare to venture across the border to collect food
from home face further attacks. Elizabeth walks back to her tent to
prepare an evening meal for her children, a task she used to enjoy,
but now struggles to perform. END
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1 Comment

    August 4, 2017 at 7:20 am   

    Very sad yet very true account of what is being largely swept
under the carpet!!

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