Writer: Hana Thai brings light to the humanitarian emergency in South Sudan
According to UNHCR, the humanitarian emergency in South Sudan is the largest refugee
crises in Africa and the third largest in the world. Yet, the media neglects to inform the public of near four million refugees that have fled the country, many being women and children, as well as those who are still struggling to escape the political and economic turmoil. Years of increasing violence have caused the Sudanese people to desperately escape a brutal civil war, abandoning their homes, running from sexual assault and violence, orphaned children often on their own. HIAS president and CEO Mark Hetfield issued the following statement, “"The extraordinary levels of inter-ethnic mass killings being reported out of South Sudan is a worrisome indication of where the violence is heading. Footage showing horrifying acts including the ruthless massacre of human lives is an unthinkable scenario, but one with which we are tragically
For many Sudanese, this is not the first time they have been a refugee. For 60 year old
Lasuba Yousoro, it “feels like [his] whole life has been a refugee life”. Younger refugees like 19
year old Beatrice describe what life is like in refugee camps in places like Uganda. Oxfam
International cites that the “Imvepi Refugee Settlement” ...can host a maximum of 110,000
people. To date, 95,000 people are registered and there are around 1,000 new arrivals every
day”. In an interview with Oxfam, Beatrice talks about how all she wants it to be able to support herself and her young daughter, “I want to do something for myself, to become a tailor...and build up our future”.
Many women of South Sudan have been forced to take on the roles as both mother and father to their families as their husbands having being killed in the conflict. Women like Martha Nyabany operate a canoe system in Nyal that offers transportation to fleeing refugees as well as access to food, healthcare, and education in neighboring areas. Nyabany describes how gender stereotypes initially turned people away from the idea of female canoe operators, but perseverance and determination found only in someone willing to do whatever it takes to survive has earned them their respect, “Some people had doubts initially because of the strength required to steer a canoe, but we proved them wrong”.
Regardless, the struggle of Sudanese refugees has been ongoing and the turmoil shows
no signs of easing up as protests swell. However, one of the most important things we can do, something we must do, is bring awareness to the struggles of Sudan and its people. UNHCR not only has multiple articles on the current situation amongst refugees in South Sudan, they’ve taken initiative to bring resources like clean water to refugee camps. Fundraising and donations go a long way, and at the very least, informing the people around you. For us to fall into the habit of only acknowledging and caring for refugees that come from publicized war zones or high-profile countries, we are doing more harm than good, contributing to the humanitarian crises that plagues refugees all over the world.