Medina and Margret are just two among hundreds of thousands in South Sudan who have been driven from their homes by the fighting that escalated last month. Left with little in a disrupted economy, they want to take their families away from the conflict but can’t afford to, leaving them to seek sanctuary wherever they can. Read the story of these two families, and learn what World Vision is doing to help.
Medina Hilary, 18, has spent four days in the Catholic Church compound after being uprooted by fear and insecurity from her home in Lologo, a suburb of Juba, South Sudan. Seated with her 1-year-old son on a mat, Medina has been running into the church because of fighting between the army of South Sudan and opposition forces within Juba town.
“I left my house because I didn’t feel safe there,” Medina says. “When soldiers fight in the barracks, they retreat into our home. Guns are then directed to our direction when soldiers come to hide at our neighborhood. It is cold at night here but we cannot sleep in our homes because we are afraid. Many people have already left and fighting can resume any time. We have no security here, but God will protect us from harm. I am thinking of going to our village in Nimule, but I do not have money for bus fare.”
The fighting, which erupted in the South Sudanese capital on December 15 between the army and opposition forces, has displaced nearly 490,000 civilians and killed at least 1,000 people. This massive displacement of people has created a humanitarian crisis in the country, with thousands of children and their families living in appalling conditions without food.
“We have not enough food at home,” Medina says. “What we have now in stock is dry okra, which can be eaten with corn. We don’t usually keep large stock of food in the house because we do not have stable income. We only buy food that our money can afford at the time. This fighting found us unprepared — we didn’t have money and food.”
The ongoing fighting and insecurity in many parts of the country makes it difficult for residents of Juba to live a normal life and make a living. Medina’s husband works as a motorcycle rider, transporting people for pay within the town. However, this business has been affected by the conflict, making it hard for the family to survive in the coming days.
“My husband stopped working after the fighting. He is now at home, but will join us before nightfall,” she says.
Medina is not alone. Margret Sarafino’s family is facing a similar challenge. For Margret, 27, life has not been easy for her family since she returned from exile in Khartoum, Sudan, in 2011 following the South’s independence. Even before the conflict, she was struggling to take care of her children because she didn’t have a job. She depends on her mother, who is the only breadwinner in the family. The conflict and her inability to find a job in Juba has made her nostalgic.
“In Khartoum, I worked as midwife, and I was able to make money. However, when I came to Juba, I became jobless. My husband has no job, too, so it is my mother who supports the family through her sewing machine business,” Margret says.
The sewing machine business is not doing well, but has been able to keep the family going. Joblessness and ongoing conflict, which makes life difficult, have got Margret thinking of going back to Khartoum.
“We drink from the church borehole, but the water is not enough because there are lots of people using it. Hygiene is also a major concern here because the church latrine here has already been spoiled because of the huge number of people using it. I will go back to Khartoum if the fighting does not stop,” she says.
Both Margret and Medina want to leave Juba, but they are currently unable to do so because they have no money. With no choice left but to stay, they and others displaced within Juba are taking refuge wherever they can.
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World Vision is staging a response in Uganda’s Western Nile region to help some of the more than 38,000 South Sudanese who have taken refuge there.
People’s immediate needs are food, shelter, water and sanitation, infrastructure, and cooking and household supplies.
In South Sudan, World Vision is providing supplies for families displaced by violence in the north and plans to reach more people in the coming weeks.
Food stocks are dwindling as U.N. bases, churches, and camps for the displaced try to feed the influx of people fleeing violence.
“The humanitarian situation is serious,” Perry Mansfield, World Vision’s national director, says from his office in South Sudan’s capital of Juba.
For more than a month, conflict has raged in South Sudan, and thousands of people are caught up in the violence. You can help provide urgently-needed food, healthcare, clean water, shelter, and protection to children and families in South Sudan. Make a one-time donation to our South Sudan DIsaster Relief Fund today!