Children’s voices: the conflict in Sudan
In the soon-to-be independent nation of South Sudan, the stark inequalities between girls and boys, and the lack of access to basic services in rural areas are all so evident.
As fighting escalates in Abyei and Southern Kordofan State, along the border between north and south, southern Sudan is also struggling with safety and protection for thousands of children fleeing the violence.
Save the Children Sweden is delivering much needed aid to families in the Abyei and Agok areas who are affected. For more information on this see Kristina’s blog on the crisis in Abyei and the new Sudan report on the escalating situation in Southern Kordofan.
During conflict, children are at high risk of separation from their families. People run in all directions and children are separated from their mums and dads. Family Tracing and Reunification (FTR) is a crucial part of Save the Children’s work in southern Sudan, reconnecting lost children with their parents and relatives.
Below are some testimonies from children caught up in the fighting, their experiences of fleeing into southern Sudan and how it has disrupted their lives and education.
Save the Children in South Sudan is supporting these children through the creation of Child Friendly Spaces (CFS), where they come to play and talk to their peers in a safe place with access to games, drawing materials and health education.
Achil, 12 years old
“In the evening at 4pm, there was an Antonov plane moving around over my house 3 times, and then boom. My mum told us to stay together. We slept, and there was the sound of shooting.
“My mother collected a few items and the shooting continued. We ran to Anet Town and walked for 4 days to reach Mayen Abun. We were so tired and my younger brother and sister cried so much. We really don’t like being in Mayen Abun. Life has changed and there is not enough food.
“We are homeless and my mum cries every night. Out father was killed last year. We like Save the Children because the Child Friendly Space keeps us busy and makes us forget the incident that we have undergone.”
Manut, 10 years old
“I like this place because it keeps me and the other children busy. We play games and I have new friends. I like drawing and colouring my pictures. We are given many good games to choose for ourselves. This place is good.”
Lual, 14 years old
“My family is Dinka. My mother is called Abuk. My father died during the first attack (May 2008). He was an SPLA soldier. I have three brothers; we all came with our mother to Mayen Abun. I don’t like being in this place because we are homeless staying under the trees. Rain washes over us, the heat from the sun beats down on us.”
Agnes, 15 years old
“My mother and father are from Magwi County, Eastern Equatoria State. We moved to Abyei, and then came here (to Mayen Abun) with our mother because our father is an SPLA soldier. He did not come with us. I am not happy with this fighting because I am homeless and I don’t know where my father is. There is no food, no clothing, and no shelter. We ran without bringing our clothing, and we have no bed sheets. My mother has no money to buy us food and clothes. I would like to go to Juba to be with my uncle.
“The Save the Children Child Friendly Space is good, though, because we can play every day. I like drawing pictures and playing games. I have new friends and new teachers.”
Alek, 9 years old
“Being in the IDP camp is not good because there is not enough food, not enough water. I was lost and reunified with my mother in the village Anet, and we ran together to Mayen Abun. My mother said we will all go back to Agok. We are staying under trees and at night we sleep in the school. We need food and shelter before the rains come heavily.
“The Save the Children place is good to keep us happy. We wish it will continue to bring the materials for activities, games and recreation.”
Photos by Eric van der Lee, Aye Aye Tun, Valente Oyukutu and Sanja Rogic. Testimonies gathered by Keji Cecily.
(Names of children have been changed to protect their identities, and photographs are not of the children who have shared testimonies.)