Atong has been displaced over and over again

South Sudan is a country with numerous invisible crises that never make the headlines. They remain overshadowed, unreported and unreached by the international community. The invisible crises vary from inter-ethnic communal violence, age set intra-communal violence, to abnormal flooding, drought and famine.

Situated along the southern border of Sudan Unity State, South Sudanese in Abiemnom County have experienced a multitude of displacement within their lifetime.

“In 1963, when I was young, I flee from Kol to Aworpiny in Abiemnom due to violence. In 1972, I flee again, and as if that was not enough, in 1983 I ran to Khartoum because of the war that broke out between North and South Sudan. In 2003, I went back to BangBang to see my place of origin. I lived there for some time and endured the fighting that broke out in 2014 and 2016. Now, we keep running again and again due to communal violence and military front-line wars where we experience constant attacks.” Atong, a single mother of six, recounts.

Unity State is a vast area, situated strategically along the border of Sudan and over the majority of South Sudan’s oil reserves. Its subterranean resources make it a centrepiece of civil wars, yet its rivers provide opportunities for fishing and large landscape space for agro-pastoralists livelihoods.

Displacements from war and communal violence

People in Abiemnom have experienced both large and small-scale displacement. The war in the 1980s and inter-communal violence in May 2018 led to large scale displacement, when South Sudanese such as Awien were displaced.

“When we were displaced in 1983, we went to North Sudan, and later on in 2003 returned to BangBang in South Sudan to find a better life.” Says Awien.
Awien has also been displaced and affected several times due to communal violence:

“We have for a long time experienced cattle raiding incidents in BangBang. My brother was mercilessly killed in one of the raids and they took away his cattle.” Awien recalls.

“I lost all my livelihood to the conflict. All my cattle, clothes, chickens, crops and everything was taken away. We ran away that night and came back the next morning to witness the damage. Everything we ever owned had been looted and destroyed,” Atong narrates.

Cattle raiding crises remain invisible

In the dry season the situation become worse, as rivers and flood waters that inhibit movement are no longer there to protect the people from the raids in the area, Atong says:

“Some of our family members were killed in the attack and all our cattle were taken away in the last dry season of April. We still fear for our lives!

The attacks in the night have inhibited us from going to the bushes to collect firewood or grass. We are yet to return back to our homes.” Atong Concludes.

The cattle raiding crisis in Abiemnom remains invisible to many and has been overshadowed by the severe flooding and inter-communal violence in the community. For women such as Atong and Awien, this remains a reality that barely make it to the media, government or humanitarian community. They hope that one day, such issues will be highlighted and a permanent solution sought after for good.

FACTS about DRC Mobile response team

DRC South Sudan’s Mobile Response Team (MRT) is focused on identifying the most urgent needs and delivering assistance to people affected by these invisible crises. The team is specialized in accessing hard to reach areas where other humanitarian actors are unable to reach. The team flies, drives, hikes, paddles and wades through deep flooded waters to reach displaced communities, collecting information and identifying humanitarian assistance needed. DRC then shares this information with other organizations and UN Agencies to coordinate and provide aid.

FACTS about crises in South Sudan

South Sudan has a long history of crises that are known globally: From the First Sudanese Civil War in 1955 to 1972, the inter-ethnic warfare in 2011 following independence, and the political struggle that led to the South Sudanese Civil War in 2013. These crises led to mass displacements making global news headlines. Today, the humanitarian crisis and efforts towards the establishment of a Transitional Government of National Unity continues to make headlines globally. There are however numerous invisible crises that never make the headlines, that remain overshadowed and unreported and unreached by the international community.