South Sudan: First impressions

First impressions aren’t always accurate.

But in my first days here I have been struck by the extent of trauma people have experienced – and real worries that the violence that has rocked South Sudan since mid-December may not be over.

The capital of Juba is calm, but it is only “outwardly” so, one of the Catholic sisters I have been interviewing told me.

And the calm hides anger and grievances that could, with the right kindling, flare up again.

Fear and worry are palpable.

Last Sunday, I attended a Mass at a displacement camp run by the U.N., and after the service, several young men expressed real concern about what may be ahead.

They and their families – Juba residents – had been displaced in the recent violence and are not going back to their neighbourhoods because they are afraid for their lives.

“It is hard for us because the fighting is still going on, and we could still be killed,” said John Khalid Mamun, 32.

The violence stems from multiple layers of political and ethnic tension and grievance.

Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes and communities, undermining hope for the future of a country barely three years old. Continue reading.

Chris Herlinger is a writer and journalist, particularly on humanitariam issues. He is currently in South Sudan with the National Catholic Reporter, covering the situation of political tension and escalating violence in the world’s newest country.

Source: National Catholic Reporter

Image: CWS Global

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