South Sudan. Today. 15th December. 1 year on. I remember so very clearly waking up on 16th December 2013 to the news that Juba was under attack. Sitting in the bush, waiting to hear whether the airports would reopen. Whether we could return for Christmas. Trying to remain light-hearted in what was becoming an increasingly grave situation. You can read some of my memories here.
There had been such hope. A good two years of independence. Investors were coming from overseas. Juba was beginning to slowly develop. There was talk that aid might be able to beginning taking a development focus rather than solely humanitarian.
And now… almost 2million people displaced. Increasing concerns of famine. Almost 2.5 million facing food insecurity. Rainy season has just finished which has brought about renewed fighting. 50,000+ people have already died as a direct result of the conflict.
All this, hidden from the world’s eyes. South Sudan is just another country with its many problems. We’re tired of seeing malnourished babies. We’re tired of hearing about people killing each other. We’re tired of death, of pain, of destruction. We seen it all before, we’ve heard it all before. We’ve tried to help. We’ve bought our BandAid records, we’ve paid our £5 to DEC. We’ve moved on.
I’m tired of it all.
I’m tired of thinking back to the friends I made in South Sudan. The people I met. The babies I weighed and the measured. After I was first evacuated, I was glued to the news. I spent hours obsessing over every news article I could find. I swallowed my pride and joined twitter with the sole purpose of getting more information about the conflict: how it was spreading, what was happening, had Kiir and Machar got any closer to reaching a peace deal? After the first cessation of hostilities was signed I was elated. It was like breathing a sigh of relief. Maybe my colleagues had been wrong. Maybe peace could be just round the corner. And then within 72 hours, conflict broke out again – with both sides accusing the other. I too slowly became tired. Peace talk after peace talk failed. A town was captured by the opposition then reclaimed by the SPLA, then lost again to the rebels and so on. I too slowly became tired.
And I think that’s ok.
In fact, I would go so far as to say it’s right that we become tired. We should be tired. We should be exhausted by it all: fed up of it all: jaded: weary: bored of hearing the same story. We should be wanting to hear good news.
But we shouldn’t be ignoring or forgetting. I don’t want to forget. I never want to forget. South Sudan. Today. 15th December.
As this BBC article asks:
‘Will Mr Kiir and Mr Machar still be fighting in 12 months’ time?
“In a year, probably,” says Mr Muortat [political analyst]. “But in five years, no.”
For those mourning the uncounted casualties throughout the country, even a day more of the conflict seems too long.’