When I left Juba 8 days ago South Sudan was peaceful… now the scenario is incredibly, staggeringly different.
Fighting in Juba which started last Sunday quickly spread and by Wednesday the U.S. had decided to evacuate its citizens and the U.K. followed suit. My VSO colleagues were part of this evacuation, some leaving on Thursday and Friday. Some are staying in Uganda for Christmas and others are going on to their home countries since this is a home evacuation with no plan for when we return to the country. I’m not going to go into the political machinations all to say that that which has started as a political issue has escalated significantly. There are estimates over 500 people have been killed already and hundreds more injured. Thousands have sought refuge at UN bases across the country.
My work colleagues won’t have the opportunity or money to evacuate. They don’t have that privilege. I’ve heard that many people are fleeing to the bush and cars are lining up at the border to Uganda and I wonder if any of them are choosing this option. Maybe they are camped at one of the UN bases with all those thousands of others.
My routine of walking to work and spending the day with 20 or so colleagues in our rustic office or in our open-air-mango-tree-meeting-room or zooming between health facilities on the back of a boda boda seems like a year ago and not eight days ago. Or maybe that’s because I’ve been worrying and obsessively reading news online and giving in to jetlag rather than trying to beat it.
There’s growing global news coverage although its still incredible to me how paltry pieces of ‘news’ here take precedence over the decimation of a country.
I don’t want to get into politics – there’s lots of analysis out there – but I want to light a candle for South Sudan and her many citizens. I’m hoping beyond hope that the power brokers will choose peace this Christmas…
Good hash tags for uptodate info on twitter: