Last week, South Sudan celebrated three years of independence. Crowds lined the streets of Juba to see troops singing and dancing, carrying banners proclaiming the message “One People, One Nation.”
Yet South Sudan remains a country deeply divided. Violence has gripped the country since an alleged coup attempt last March, with ceasefire agreements bringing little respite and peace talks crumbling in June. This year, US-based research association Fund for Peace declared South Sudan the world's most fragile nation.
Relief at last for exhausted families
Despite the ongoing violence, there is cause for hope for SOS families, who are looking forward into moving into a new Children's Village in the next few weeks. Since their evacuation from Malakal, families have been living at a guest house in Juba while we've been making more permanent plans. All the families will be in their new homes by early August.
The Village is designed to provide good temporary accommodation for the next 12-18 months, while we build a new Children's Village which will provide a permanent home for children in our care.
After the upheaval children, mothers and staff have suffered in recent months, we have taken special care to choose a secure location where families will be safe from the ongoing conflict. The complex will have a fortified perimeter fence fortified and round-the-clock security. Sadly, South Sudan's security situation makes such steps necessary, and our priority is to offer children the highest level of protection.
Why did we evacuate our Children's Village in Malakal?
We never evacuate a Children's Village unless it is absolutely unavoidable. When the rebels seized control of Malakal, it was clear from the outset that the children's lives were in danger.
12-year-old Samuel remembers hiding under his bed as the violence intensified, listening to the sound of gunshots and rocket fire. “I was so scared,” he says. “I wasn't sure who was shooting who.”
Finally, the rebels entered the Village, where they were confronted by brave SOS mother Nyanyul Look. “I told them the Village was for orphans and they should not trouble the people living there,” she says. “Some listened, but others didn't and demanded money and mobile phones from the mothers.” Samuel remembers the occasion vividly: “I was terrified the soldiers would kill my mum.”
Eventually, the rebels went away, but they soon returned. This time, they ransacked the Village, looting everything in sight, threatening mothers, children and staff. With the whole SOS community at risk of serious harm, evacuation was the best way to keep families safe.
The new Village in Juba will provide children with safety in a country torn apart by war. Supporters like you are vital to ensure that South Sudan's most vulnerable children benefit from a loving family and the best opportunities in life. Learn more and find out how you can help.