JUBA, South Sudan (April 16, 2014) — Renewed fighting has broken out in several cities in South Sudan, including the border town of Renk where many internally displace people relocated due to the stability in the area. Renk is also where the government moved several administrative offices when Malakal was attacked and made unstable.
“This evening, two of World Vision’s staff in Renk called into the Juba office to report that fighting broke out with shocking intensity, requiring them to seek shelter,” reports Perry Mansfield, program director for World Vision South Sudan. “Due to heavy shooting in the area, they reported that they could not access the UNMISS compound, so they have run into the bush and heading toward the border with Sudan.”
World Vision staff members were about to start a program in Renk to help families grow simple crops for food they could feed their families, as well as, distribute kits for fishing in the local river.
Children like 14-year-old Maria are having a very difficult time finding any comfort in the bleak situation. “My mother wants to go home but my grandfather says we cannot. How can we? We will be killed if we do,” says Maria during a World Vision distribution of blankets and other items in Rom, about 250 kilometers from Renk. “My father is dead. Our life here is dust. We are sleeping in the open air. But we cannot go home. I wanted to be a pilot, but now I do not know if I will return to school. I do not know when we can go to our house again. We are living in fear here. We have no protection. If we go back the fighting can happen anytime and we will all die.”
Mansfield continued: “People were running primarily from Malakal, where they had been victims or witnessed horrible violence. Children in particular have been deeply affected by the sights of death, destruction, and rape. Renk was a stable place far from the conflict where parents could bring their children to safety while the fighting continued. And now they are forced to run again. South Sudan is quickly becoming a place where children cannot find safety anywhere.”
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