Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have fled over the border to Uganda in the face of fierce fighting and the rampant targeting of civilians. Their stories are absolutely harrowing and most have arrived with just the clothes they are wearing.
The area of Palabek in northern Uganda is close to the border with South Sudan and has become one vast refugee camp. There are 33,000 refugees there currently and the number is increasing every day.
Amdo Paska (28) is a mother of four who is also caring for her brother’s child and her own little brother. She and her family had to flee the fighting and travelled to Palabek. This is what Amdo told Trócaire:
“I come from the village of Abwo in South Sudan. I left because of the war. There was a lot of fighting. Life was good before the war. I have four children aged from 6 weeks to 7 years. I am also looking after my brother’s child (14) and my own little brother. I have been here for 11 months with my husband and children.
We were very afraid in South Sudan. The rebels were killing civilians. My brother-in-law was killed. Three people were killed in my village. I witnessed the violence first-hand. We had a motorbike and my husband loaded the family on and we fled. He had to do several runs. We arrived with just the clothes we stood up in. When we arrived here we were totally traumatised. We thought the rebels would follow us. I thought my children might be killed.
I have family back in South Sudan but I have no way to contact them and only here now and then how they are from new arrivals. Life was easy for us before the war. My husband drove a road-roller. We had a house and land. We left it all. I hear someone else is living in my house.
REBUILDING THEIR LIVES
“The kids are in school here in the settlement and I would like them to finish school before we even think about returning. When we arrived here there was just bush and my husband could not find work. But we were given goats from CESVI (Trócaire’s partner organisation) and have been helped to plant a kitchen garden where we grow cow peas, okra, onions and pumpkins. These supplement our diet and we are able to sell some.
My husband built our house and most of our neighbours are from South Sudan – different tribes but that means nothing here. We have good relations with the local Ugandans. Our lives would have been really difficult without the help we have received from Trócaire.”
There are thousands of families with similar stories to Amdo in the region. In South Sudan, more than four million people have had to leave their homes. Seven million people are still in need of food aid.
Trócaire’s Christmas Appeal will support families like these with the vital help and support they need to rebuild.