Many villages such as Kapat-Koch near the town of Bor, in Jonglei State, were destroyed in government attacks. The landmark elections, the first multi-party polls in 24 years and part of a north-south deal to end two decades of war, have brought many of Sudan's Lost Boys home for the first time.
An estimated 27,000 Dinka children were orphaned or uprooted during Sudan's second civil war from 1983 to 2005, some falling victim to government-backed militias, others to the army and others recruited by the guerrilla movement. They were scattered all over the world, and with thousands as far afield as the US and Canada."There are thousands who have gone home since the fighting stopped," said Valentino Achak Deng, whose 2006 autobiography What is the What, co-written with American author Dave Eggers made him the most famous Lost Boy. The election, he told The Independent newspaper, may have brought many more of his generation flooding home.
Peter Aluong, 27 returned to Kapat-Koch, a community of huts in the plains of southern Sudan. He left there as a nine-year-old. As well as placing his historic vote, he went there to find his family and through a cousin, he finally found his father. "He didn't recognise me," said Peter. "Even me, I was not able to recognise him." Nearly 19 years later, he recalled the day he left. "We were playing in the field," he said, gesturing towards the empty stubble beyond the huts. "Then there was fighting everywhere. We ran. Afterwards I went back to see what happened but I couldn't find anyone. There was no one."
The elections, which ended on Friday, were set up under a 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of north-south war and also promised southerners a 2011 referendum on whether they should split off and become an independent country. Early results suggested President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his party were heading for a strong. There have also been allegations of ballot-rigging among both Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague to face charges of war crimes in Darfur, and by ex-rebels in the south.