A few weeks ago he was still working in a hospital in Yei, South Sudan as a medical officer when events made it impossible for him to stay. Charles mentioned that there are a lot of ethnic tensions, and the possibility of more violence. Taking as much as he could, he and his family fled towards the Ugandan border but along the way everything they took was stolen – his computer, cell phone and household goods. The money he had with him was used to bribe soldiers along the road to let them pass road blocks until they reached the border where they found a place to cross unnoticed by the South Sudanese army who patrolled the border. When asked why they were obstructed from crossing into Uganda, Charles explained, ”There are a lot of suspicions and accusations being made, so we had to be very careful”.
The situation in South Sudan has escalated into a crisis similar in size to that experienced in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
When asked about the condition of the camps, he responded that he was grateful that Uganda again would take in refugees but he and his family were suffering from lack of sufficient drinking water but grateful for the food and other things that they received at the transition camp when they first arrived. And, yes, he was grateful for the materials provided to build a temporary shelter and for the latrine and bathhouse nearby for his family to use. In South Sudan it was becoming more and more difficult to find food and he was especially concerned that his children were not able to attend school for the past year as they had all been closed down. He was hopeful that they could find schools to attend in Uganda as he could not imagine returning to his home in South Sudan anytime soon. “And what would I come back to?” he asked. “Everything we had has been looted or destroyed.”
Charles’ story is just one of many that are told by the thousands of refugees that have fled South Sudan. Is it because the story of Sudan and its decades of conflict has been heard so often that we in the West are becoming immune to their cries for help today? The situation in South Sudan has escalated into a crisis similar in size to that experienced in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq and we are grateful to the neighbouring countries that are opening their borders to these refugees and providing them with shelter, food and other necessities while they wait to see what lies ahead for them.
World Renew, with generous funding from Integral partner TEAR Australia, is responding by building latrines. The needs are urgent, however, as 2,500 new refugees are arriving every day and there is a shortage of facilities. With the rainy season approaching there is the increasing possibility of a cholera outbreak. Currently, there is a shortage of 502 latrines. A donation of $250 covers the cost of one latrine unit which serves 50 families.