The South Sudanese Catastrophy

Since the eruption of the brutal conflict in South Sudan in December 2013, Ethiopia has received some 330,000 refugees. More refugees cross the border every day. There seem to be no solution to the conflict.

It’s always disheartening to arrive at a refugee camp. Life is meagre and tough. People have had to flee their homes to wars, conflicts, starvation or a combination of thereof. They live in jumbled shacks or makeshift tents provided by aid agencies. Often the camps are packed with refugees, food is short and conditions anything but affable.

The Fugnido and Tierkidi refugee camps in western Ethiopia are probably among the best organized I have seen. But the sheer size and the endless stream of new refugees still crossing over from South Sudan is shattering. The civil war in South Sudan is a rivalry between tribes of nomads such as Dinkas and Nuers. According to experts it’s not a conflict that will soon be resolved. For the refugees it means that they might expect to have to stay in the refugees camps for decades.

Øystein Mikalsen, the writer I was travelling with, and I could not help but be impressed but the resilience and hardiness of the Nuers we met in the Fugnido and Tierkidi refugee camps. We were especially impressed by the 16-year-old Nyaboth Lual, whom we stayed with through a whole day. She was constantly putting in work for her family that had managed to flee South Sudan not long ago. Nyaboth was strong and hardy. At the same time, I saw resignation in her eyes. What was to become of her and her family? There is no telling.