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Safety in South Sudan

Looking for security in the uncertainty

In preparation for my trip (1 more sleep!) I’ve been briefed on the security situation in South Sudan, particularly the Lakes State (where I’ll be spending most of my time). Travel to this region is never easy and since the civil war broke out last year it has become more dangerous than ever.

Most organizations have pulled out of the region due to insecurity caused by rebel activity as well as inter-tribal violence. The UN has ranked our region as a 4 out of 6 alert zone and nobody can leave the UN base without armed men, flak jackets and helmets.

Gunfire is heard regularly, most roads are closed and a curfew will prevent us from leaving our armed compound between 6:00pm and 9:00am.

Despite these threats, Lakes State is considered relatively protected from the civil war because of the large Dinka population that is armed with AK47s and spears, ready to fight if necessary. Unfortunately, this heightened state of alert – along with displacement due to famine, lack of water, and a culture of tribal and revenge killings – has intensified inter-tribal violence among the Dinka. They are clashing over territory, livestock and water sources.

Are you wondering why the heck I’m going?

The answer is simple: because I have to. The work we do in South Sudan is more essential than ever. Many organizations have left South Sudan when the people need help like never before. As a result of the insecurity of the area, women and children are often left alone in villages to fend for themselves, abandoned without food or water to survive.

There are talks of peace agreements on the larger civil war scale as well as within the intertribal circles between village elders and the clashing communities. Eventually this will come, and when it does I know clean water will be what is needed to begin anew.