A letter from… Nyal, South Sudan
Escaping violence in South Sudan
My name is Elizabeth. I am 23 and I live in Nyal, in South Sudan.
I used to live in the town of Bentiu. When the conflict started there in 2014, I was shot in the leg and wounded. I tried to leave the town with my aunts, a colleague and my children (I have four children, two boys and two girls). But it was difficult and nobody helped me.
With a great deal of struggle, we finally made it to Leer County. When I got to Leer, another conflict started there and many people were killed. There was no way to run, but I survived. So, I went with my two aunts, my colleague and children, until I reached a certain village.
When I got there, my parents heard that their daughter had been shot and was in Leer, so they travelled by boat and collected me. They brought me here, to Nyal. My children all came with me – the youngest one had been shot but is still alive.
For now, I am not afraid. The only thing I can say is that life here, and the life I had before, is not the same since the conflict. When we came from Bentiu, we came with no bucket, no food, nothing. So we are suffering and life is very hard. I’m facing a lot of challenges.
The women here are doing a lot of activities. Some of the women I am living with used to go to the forest to cut dry wood or wild sorghum [a grain], which they sell to get money. But it is difficult for me to go and do the same because my leg is still painful. Even walking is difficult – and that is a big problem, as I’m not able to get money to buy tea for my children. When food is dropped [by aid planes], we go and get our ration.
My main worry is the situation in our country. Because I’m struggling to find food for my children, I’m worried about them. So, I look after them rather than going to the bush, in case something happens to them while I’m away. I worry a lot about the future.
But I still have hope, because these things are in the hand of God. Because this suffering may end in time. Even if I suffer now, maybe one day I will recover, I will not be like this.
The only message that I would like tell to the leaders of the country is to stop the ongoing fighting. My message to NGOs and government is to assist people – vulnerable people and those who are helpless – those that cannot help themselves.
Elizabeth’s name has been changed for security reasons. More than three years of violent conflict in South Sudan has forced millions to abandon their homes. Some six million people are facing extreme food shortages. As part of the charity emergency response to the East Africa food crisis, Christian Aid is working through its local partners in South Sudan to assist communities affected by conflict, displacement and hunger. For more information visit bit.ly/cafrica
This article was published in the November 2017 edition of Reform.