In northern South Sudan, combats opposing the army and rebels are affecting thousands of victims, who have to escape death by fleeing to Sudan. Between Wau Shilluk and Aburoc, there are still up to 50,000 people, caught in the middle of a conflict that has been going on for too long.
8 days on foot. That is how long populations of Tonga town need to reach Aburoc, the ultimate haven before getting to Sudan, where another war often awaits them. 8 days without water, food, nor health care… But most of all, an extremely dangerous journey. “Every day people die on the road to Aburoc where thousands have found shelter, deplores Camille Niel, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL’s Rapid Response Coordinator in South Sudan. Those who hit the road are women, children and the elderly. The weakest don’t have enough strength to flee. As for men, they are all already dead, forcibly conscripted or stuck in refugee camps. If they go out of the secured zones and they come across soldiers, they can be killed. Without warning.
“Evacuated, we have to get back as quickly as possible”
Even though the road is riddled with risks, surviving in Aburoc is no easier, Camille Niel tells: “There is no water in the city, or at least, not enough for all of us, and the risk of a cholera outbreak increases every day. There is no health care provided, no food, nor shelter. Women and children manage to find some shade underneath a tree to avoid the 40°C in a blazing sun. This is what we were told, because a couple of days ago, we had to evacuate the area as the context was getting seriously insecure for us. We had to leave the people whom we have been providing aid to for a couple of months, and sometimes years now. We also left behind our national staff, and we don’t know if we will see them again… We have to be able to come back as soon as possible. Access for aid has to be guaranteed in Aburoc, and the city and the civilians there must be be preserved from fighting and that aid needs to be secured. Without our presence, our testimony, the silence surrounding this level of violence is deafening.”
Pictures: Clément Gonde