South Sudan commemorates its fifth anniversary as an independent country on July 9. But the half decade since independence has not been kind to the world’s youngest country. In December 2013 a civil war broke out between rival political factions, displacing millions and creating one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

To commemorate the anniversary and draw attention to the ongoing crisis, the Better World Campaign (which supports this blog) hosted a photo exhibit on Capital Hill. Below are a selection of the photos that were on display.

 

Malakal, 26 February 2016 - A displaced woman takes care of a baby at a school building in Malakal town. She was among the 4,000 people who fled the UN Protection of Civilians site after violence took place on 17 and 18 February. At least 18 people were killed, more than 90 wounded and humanitarian facilities and civilian shelters destroyed during the fighting. Humanitarian partners have rapidly mobilized additional supplies to respond to the new needs generated by the violence in town and in the PoC. Photo: OCHA / Guiomar Pau Sole.

Malakal, 26 February 2016 – A displaced woman takes care of a baby at a school building in Malakal town. She was among the 4,000 people who fled the UN Protection of Civilians site after violence took place on 17 and 18 February. At least 18 people were killed, more than 90 wounded and humanitarian facilities and civilian shelters destroyed during the fighting. Humanitarian partners have rapidly mobilized additional supplies to respond to the new needs generated by the violence in town and in the PoC. Photo: OCHA / Guiomar Pau Sole.

 

It is reported that approximately 28,000 IDPs affected by the conflict in Unity State have arrived in Nyal in recent weeks. WFP is providing food and nutrition assistance to the area; UNICEF is also present on the ground to treat severe acute malnutrition and to help with other various needs, including childhood education. Nyal is one of the largest sites in southern Unity State with a previous caseload of 60,000 beneficiaries.

Nyal, Unity. Women unload food from a WFP helicopter in September 2015. Following intense violence in the Central and Southern areas of Unity in 2015, tens of thousands of people arrived to Nyal seeking shelter, safety and food. An estimated 4.8 million people are facing severe food insecurity, the highest level of hunger since the conflict in South Sudan began two-and-a-half years ago.Photo: UNMISS/JC McIlwaine.

 

Pathiau, Jonglei. When the conflict broke out, Nyabil fled towards the River. Those with enough money took boats to safety, but Nyabil was left behind. “I was walking along the river trying to get some help… a man named Garang Riek reached into his pocket and gave me enough money to cross. ‘You don’t have to return the money,’ he said. ‘Gunshots don’t know the difference between a Dinka and a Nuer person.’” Photo: OXFAM/Stella Madete

Pathiau, Jonglei. When the conflict broke out, Nyabil fled towards the River. Those with enough money took boats to safety, but Nyabil was left behind. “I was walking along the river trying to get some help… a man named Garang Riek reached into his pocket and gave me enough money to cross. ‘You don’t have to return the money,’ he said. ‘Gunshots don’t know the difference between a Dinka and a Nuer person.’” Photo: OXFAM/Stella Madete

 

Juba, Central Equatoria. When their neighbor Abraham and his family faced arrest because they were Nuer, Monica and her family sprang into action and offered them a place to stay. After three weeks, Abraham’s family was able to safely flee the country. In Monica’s own words: “We are not Dinka or Nuer, but the wars and conflicts affect us all”. It might have been risky but we just knew that we were saving innocent lives.” Photo: OXFAM/Stella Madete "I remember Jekudu running frantically into the house. My sister stopped abruptly and attempted to talk but her words were interrupted by her need for air. Each sentence was punctuated with pauses. Someone was in trouble in the neighbourhood. âI was just at Cousin Peterâs house. There is a man there in trouble. "They want to arrest him because he is Nuer,â she said. âHe was trying to leave with his family when a group of soldiers went to the house and are now trying to arrest him for no reason.â "The man was called Abraham. He was a young Nuer man with a wife and two children. They had sought refuge in a neighbourâs house after leaving their own in search of safety. While hiding there, four local policemen knocked on the door and demanded that Abraham leave with them. Full testimony in document below, see related resources.

Juba, Central Equatoria. When their neighbor Abraham and his family faced arrest because they were Nuer, Monica and her family sprang into action and offered them a place to stay. After three weeks, Abraham’s family was able to safely flee the country. In Monica’s own words: “We are not Dinka or Nuer, but the wars and conflicts affect us all”. It might have been risky but we just knew that we were saving innocent lives.” Photo: OXFAM/Stella Madete

 

Bentiu, Unity. IOM Midwife Florence Akidi begins seeing patients early in the morning at a primary care clinic in the Bentiu Protection of Civilians Site. As part of a routine check-up she listens to the foetus' heartbeat using a fetascope. In a country where an adolescent girl is three times more likely to die in childbirth than finish primary school, there are only 307 trained midwives like Florence. Photo: IOM/Brendan Bannon

Bentiu, Unity. IOM Midwife Florence Akidi begins seeing patients early in the morning at a primary care clinic in the Bentiu Protection of Civilians Site. As part of a routine check-up she listens to the foetus’ heartbeat using a fetascope. In a country where an adolescent girl is three times more likely to die in childbirth than finish primary school, there are only 307 trained midwives like Florence. Photo: IOM/Brendan Bannon

 

Twic East, Jonglei. Makuey is a Dinka businessman working in a Nuer area when conflict broke out. He reached out to his friend Malakan, a Nuer, for help. “Malakan told me that I should hide in his house. The men had intensified their searches, I had to leave. Malakan insisted on coming with me …We walked for 13 hours, he did not leave my side.I could not thank him enough…I am alive only because of him.” Photo: OXFAM/Stella Madete

Twic East, Jonglei. Makuey is a Dinka businessman working in a Nuer area when conflict broke out. He reached out to his friend Malakan, a Nuer, for help. “Malakan told me that I should hide in his house. The men had intensified their searches, I had to leave. Malakan insisted on coming with me …We walked for 13 hours, he did not leave my side.I could not thank him enough…I am alive only because of him.” Photo: OXFAM/Stella Madete

 

For deeper context about the civil war and to learn more about the challenges faced by the people of South Sudan, listen to this Global Dispatches podcast episode with Noah Gottschalk of Oxfam

 

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