South Sudan: Separated by conflict
Pibor County in South Sudan experienced a large-scale attack on 31 December 2011, killing more than 3,000 people and displacing tens of thousands.
A spate of retaliatory attacks continued throughout January 2012, displacing over 120,000 people in Jonglei State.
Abel, three, was separated from his parents during the recent violence.
Abel’s village was destroyed and Abel witnessed his father and grandparents being killed during the attack.
This is Abel’s story.
“When people were fighting I heard the sound of guns. And I saw people holding guns and shooting at people. I saw some buildings burning. I saw some flames and heard a lot of shouting. Then all of a sudden I saw many people rushing.
“When I heard this and saw a lot of fires break out, I cried and sat down somewhere. It was during the day, and even the smoke was disturbing me. It was hot. At first I was with my mother, father and grandparents.
“After the burning, I heard more shootings. After that I didn’t see my father or mother, so I stayed alone. After the shooting and the burning houses, I was so thirsty and hungry. Last time [there was a violent attack on his village], this place [on my back] was painful. I was burned by fire.
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“When I was there, I saw people like you [foreigners]. I still remember, yes. I don’t remember clearly who found me, but I came to my senses and there was somebody who helped me. But I didn’t know the name of the person. I was given some drinks, medicine and clothes.
“Now I’m here at this home. I’m given food here. I’m told that if I go out alone here, I’ll get lost. I stay with my uncle called Muolo.
“When they say my mother is alive, then I will go to mama. Yes, it makes me happy. Let mama come first, let mama come. You have to take me to my mother. Go and look for her, so that she doesn’t get lost. Go and tell her that her son is looking for her. I want to go home and play with those of Melethin [siblings], and those of Kalacha [friends].”
Abel’s mother is still missing, and said to be alive. His sister and brother are confirmed to be alive, and are with his father’s older brother.
Abel is currently staying with his younger uncle, Muolo. Muolo is 24 and is waiting to complete his primary education. He’s worried that he won’t be able to complete his studies since the local Primary School was burned down.