South Sudan border. The South Sudanese refugees fleeing from continued fights in the various parts of the country say they are tired of killings and rape of women by the militia groups and some government soldiers.
Many of the South Sudanese were born in war, lived in it and have continued to leave their country whenever war breaks out. During numerous visits to the camps, the South Sudanese refugees who feel traumatized say several people are still being killed in their villages and ambushes of buses.
They say they do not want more war. One of those who fled, John Sunday, 39, from Mundri, said: “I fled because of atrocities being committed by the government forces that attacked our village last week because they were informed that the opposition groups came and ate food from our village. But the government was defeated. They started burning houses, picked houses because they accused us of supporting rebels.”
He said: “They found a woman and raped being killing her and this was a nasty incident but we had to flee for safety with my family but I left them in Juba. If this is government of the people, they should protect us, because the civilians are innocent because when the rebels come asking for food because of hunger, we give them. And it does not mean we are rebels.”
John Sunday being interviewed. All photos by Felix
Both government and the SPLA-IO has denied atrocities being committed on the civilians in the country. The South Sudan Ambassador to Uganda, Samuel Luate, said that: “The SPLA-IO and other militia groups are purely responsible for atrocities against civilians because we have a responsibility to protect citizens. How can we turn against our own citizens? This is impossible. SPLA-IO is taking advantage of the unilateral ceasefire to attack our forces. ”
Another woman, Judith Ajok, says she ran with three children but one of them was killed in the process of escape. “We need the leaders to agree to proper terms and all the armies should stop killing and raping women. All these years we have been running to Uganda and this has affected education. We cannot grow food or be stable in families. We are tired,” she said.
Speaking to West Nile press online, the Deputy Spokesperson for SPLA-IO, Col Paul Lam Gabriel said: “It is the government soldiers who go on raping and killing people and we end up being blamed. We want to reform the country and atrocities are not one of our agenda. And we have not recruited youths but these are people who are taking guns to defend their land from the government. We are not recruiting underage people,” he said.
The Deputy SPLA-IO Paul Lam during the interview.
The UNHCR figures indicate that the war has driven away 1.3 million refugees including 224,000 Asylum seekers. The UNHCR Field Assistant, Salome Ayukuru, said: “This week we have been receiving 300-600 people daily. The number keeps changing because if the war intensifies, we get more. But one of those fleeing also got drowned in River Kaya that flooded and many people are still cut off that side,” she said.