Here’s a postcard from Daniel Majack, a freelance journalist from South Sudan.
On a recent sunny Sunday afternoon, I attended ‘Take Tea Together’ (TTT), an initiative organised by Salaam Junub (‘Peace South Sudan’) to counteract hate speech and negative tribalism.
Struggling against these tendencies is really needed in South Sudan, where warring parties in the civil war have deliberately played on and exacerbated tribal differences. Members of the Nuer group in President Salva Kiir’s administration have been labelled ‘Nuer wew’ – betrayers and sycophants. In Juba, the country’s majority tribe, the Dinka, is referred to as ‘MTN’ – a play on the slogan of the giant South African company Mobile Telephone Network: “Everywhere you go”. The Dinkas are traditionally nomads but today are also scattered around the country partly because of the persistent conflict.
Such epithets may sound harmless, but in South Sudan’s tense political atmosphere they fan the flames of conflict by inciting difference, dislike, animosity and hatred. Tribal affiliation has become key to getting a job: Dinka, Nuer or Equaotoria people can’t work in a state outside their state of origin.
The recently signed peace agreement gives some hope. Political reconciliation is the goal. The question is whether ethnic harmony will follow.
Daniel Majack, a freelance journalist in Juba
This is the first in a series of postcards from journalists in our network, published on the Blankspot Project website.
Article published in Göteborgsposten
21 April 2018
By Daniel Majack
South Sudan. The conflict in South Sudan – the youngest country in the world – is in its fifth year, and the humanitarian crisis has both intensified and expanded to unbelievable proportions.
In one of the world’s worst – and simultaneously least known – humanitarian disasters, two million people have fled abroad. They have fled mainly to the neighbouring countries Uganda (one million), Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya. The same amount of people have been forced to leave their homes but are refugees within the country’s borders.
The refugees are predominantly women and children, according to the UN. The men have been swallowed up by the conflict between government forces and the armed opposition. Some have been killed; others are actively at war. Women and children have been left to flee the violence.
Lemon Gaba is one of the temporary refugee camps outside of Juba. It is home to 7 000 internal refugees, many of whom fled the conflict in the border city of Yei when new when new battles broke out last year. Amour Pach Jok is one of them. She looks exhausted, hungry, and malnourished, rushing to get a kettle to make tea after having spent four hours gathering firewood in the bush.
-I got up at 6am to go and search for firewood. I then sell the firewood to get some money for lunch, she says in the local language dinka, and explains that she fled her home with her five children, but without a single possession. Since then, life is a question of survival.
She is not alone. The women we meet tell us about decreasing food rations, an insufficient supply of water, and contagious diseases.
Article published in Göteborgsposten, 1/5 2018. Full article (in Swedish) here: http://www.gp.se/nyheter/v%C3%A4rlden/den-bortgl%C3%B6mda-katastrofen-1.5676758