The conflict in South Sudan has displaced more than 4 million people, a third of the country’s pre-war population, since it started in December 2013. Despite the signing of a peace agreement in September 2018, its lack of implementation has left those displaced wary of returning.
In July and August 2019, a team from Refugees International traveled to South Sudan. The team interviewed UN, NGO, and government officials as well as displaced South Sudanese in Juba, Malakal, and the UN-controlled Protection of Civilian (POC) sites in those areas.
About 25,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) live in POC 3 in Juba. POCs are surrounded by fences and protected by UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) peacekeeping troops.
After visiting Juba, the Refugees International team traveled to Malakal. Inside the POC, people are living in overcrowded, cramped shelters.
Rachel, a community worker for an international NGO told the team, “everyone is tired of war, really.” She has been displaced for six years.
Although there are some services within the Malakal POC, the conditions are still challenging. Sanitation is a problem and when heavy rains come, people have to wade over raw sewage
Although there are some services within the Malakal POC, the conditions are still challenging. Sanitation is a problem and when heavy rains come, people have to wade over raw sewageA woman the team interviewed in the Malakal POC, like so many other young mothers, fears leaving the POC because there are still reports of attacks against women and girls around the country.
War and displacement has disrupted the education of many South Sudanese children. These boys pass the time in the Malakal POC.
John used to work for an NGO within the Malakal POC, but he no longer has a job.
Rita, a resident of the Malakal POC, has never left it in six years. She has heard about people being killed right outside of the gates, so she fears leaving the safety of the compound. She explained, “the only way we survive is because of the aid agencies.
Women in the Malakal POC often leave the site to collect firewood to make charcoal, which they can either use themsleves or sell in the market in the POC. They must travel in groups to be safer from attacks outside the site.
The Refugees International team spent days interviewing people in the POC, and met dozens of men, women, and children. Here a teenage girl waits outside her neighbor’s house. Adolescent girls often face threats of sexual violence and early marriage in South Sudan. Aid agencies and NGOs are trying to address these issues through various programs.