A Broken Nation: Torn between army and rebels, South Sudan refugees speak out

By Michael O’Hagan, THE EAST AFRICAN, posted Thursday, NOV/17/2016, SSN;

***Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the world’s newest country since renewed fighting broke out in the South Sudanese capital Juba in July following the collapse of a peace deal between the government and rebel forces.
***In the western town of Yei, units of the Dinka mainly South Sudan’s army are using machetes to kill the local Equatoria people accused of joining armed rebel groups, according to those who have recently fled the region.
***Other refugees described how dissident fighters forcibly recruited them into their ranks.
***Nearly 2,400 refugees arrive daily in the camps in Uganda.

South Sudanese refugees in Uganda have described being forced to flee soaring ethnic violence at the hands of the Kiir Juba government army while avoiding forced conscription into rebel forces.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the world’s newest country since renewed fighting broke out in the South Sudanese capital Juba in July following the collapse of a peace deal between the government and rebel forces.

In the western town of Yei, units of South Sudan’s army are using machetes to kill people accused of joining armed rebel groups, according to those who have recently fled the region.

“About two weeks ago, soldiers came to my brother Emmanuel’s house at night and demanded that he open the door,” said Abraham Aloro, a 20-year-old from a former tobacco plantation about two miles from Yei.

The town, which is 50 kilometres (30 miles) from the Ugandan border, has been a flashpoint for clashes between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those of his former vice-president, ex-rebel Riek Machar, who is now in exile.

“They accused him of joining the rebels,” said Aloro. “He hadn’t but they cut him to death with pangas (machetes). We found his body in the morning. He was 24.

“I ran with five friends. We were so scared. We had to take shortcuts because the government soldiers are on the main roads but there are rebels in the bush.”

Aloro then made it to Kuluba Refugee Transit Centre in northern Uganda, about seven kilometres from the South Sudan border.

Ethnic tensions

On average, around 2,400 new refugees arrive in Uganda from South Sudan daily, fleeing political violence that followed the collapse of a peace deal between Kiir and Machar inked in August last year that had raised hopes of peace. Some 330,000 have arrived so far this year.

From Kuluba, refugees are taken to Bidibidi Settlement, which is now the third largest camp in the world, where they receive essential supplies and land on which they can cultivate crops and build a shelter.

But Aloro, who is from the Kakwa tribe, is concerned about continuing ethnic tensions in the settlement.

“The SPLA (government) soldiers are Dinka and we don’t like to be with them. They are the very people who caused the problems. They will come and kill you while you are sleeping,” he said.

Robert Baryamwesiga, the top Ugandan government official in Bidibidi, accepts there is a risk of ethnic tensions spilling over into the camp.

“There’s a lot of resentment between the other tribes and Dinka. They say that the Dinka are the ones who chased them out of their country… but we are quick to sensitise them to explain that Dinkas are equally vulnerable,” he said.

“Once they are in Uganda the tribal conflicts are very minimal.”

Forceful recruitment

Sarah Kakuni, from the Pojulu ethnic group, fled South Sudan along with her two young daughters. Sitting in a communal tent in Bidibidi Settlement on a mat that the UN refugee agency had just given her, she described what life was like in Nyombwe, on the outskirts of Yei, before she fled.

“During the night you can hear shooting in town,” she said.

“When it stops, that’s when they’re slaughtering people with knives and pangas… Dinkas will open your door and kill you if you don’t have their tribal scars,” said the young mother, referring to the distinctive triple parallel lines many Dinka men have on their forehead.

Lino Rosa from Morobo county said that he was forced to fight alongside the rebels.

“They caught me and I stayed with them for one month… If you refuse they will slaughter you with a knife,” said the 26-year-old as he drew his finger across his throat.

“On 28 September they went to attack somewhere at night. I was able to sneak away. I threw down my gun and ran back to Morobo. I got my wife and children and we went to Congo,” said the father of three, who hails from the Kaliko tribe.

He then took an arduous, indirect route alone to Uganda where he joined 530,000 South Sudanese refugees already there.

“When I get more money I will go and get them,” he said of his family.



  1. Tit4tat says:

    These are the evidence of what dinkas are doing to our civilians and so we will also do the same to their MTN civilians

  2. BILL KUCH says:

    Useless all,
    They always run away and return claiming that they were forced to leave their homes. Don’t leave now you needed it in your backyards and that means it is not yet to complain. You always brag about your rebellions and therefore; you should be happy and fight on. If 4000 troops come Dinka is going to be there and if Jesus comes then still we are going to be judged alike. Even if, punishment is going to be about death or life, MTN is always going to be present. No short cut, no easy way, and no matter what!!!

  3. Steve John says:

    The more you reason with jaangs the more you acknowledge that you are part of South Sudan. Bro, stop that and see the jaang as a contagious disease that can bring death. The best is dissociate yourself or combat this disease head on. The jaangs are out on Equatoria to kill and Equatorians must do likewise it that case only a war of annihilation. There is no short cut here. As one says, it is not about numbers, after all a single butcher can slaughter several hundred cows, or rather you just need one herdsman to look after hundred cows. So it is not about the tyranny of numbers as the jaang Kuch suggests but the quality of work Equatorians must deliver to rid themselves from this human burden.

  4. wau says:

    yes yes yes yes

  5. False Millionaire says:

    “Lino Rosa from Morobo county said that he was forced to fight alongside the rebels.
    “…if you refuse,they will slaughter you with a knife”.
    The voice of an ordinary equatorian.
    So the game plan is to slaughter savagery resisting equatorians before slaughtering one single jaang and yet think it’s an act of liberation for a civilized independent equatoria?
    That’s interesting!!!

    • Bol says:

      The Party is on
      Soon enough, these jungles will be left for MTN, MTN Friends, and the Monkeys. Thanks M7, it would have been Mission Impossible without your help.

      • Steve John says:

        I would prefer that the jungles be left to the tailless monkeys. At least they would climb the trees looking for bananas and cause no havoc to the human beings. Worse are the MTNs, then they are like locusts: plenty, ever hungry, insatiable and destructive. You may need an insect spray and for the monkeys perhaps some rat poison I guess

      • GatCharwearbol says:


        You will always have my great respect for telling the truth. Indeed, there is a need to give thanks to M7 as he is your savior. Without his intervention, no idea where Kiir would be at the moment. As a token of appreciation, please bring 2 beautiful Dinka girls to Museveni. He would be ecstatic and this will make your relationship with M7 even stronger. I was offered to marriage a Dinka girl, I refused. Don’t ask me why.

        • Bol says:

          That was unwise to reject the Dinka girl. Our marriage is a Catholic one and the sooner u settled that in ur mind the better.

  6. Roberto says:

    Since the alleged killing of 21 Dinka civilians on Juba Yei road, how many equatorians have been killed by Kiir forces? You be the judge.

    Roberto Kosongo ( Bana Equatoria )

  7. Roberto says:

    Another name for MTN in Bantu is Mokako and we believe they are monkeys. We say in Bantu Dinka bazali makako.

    Roberto Kosongo ( Bana Equatoria )

  8. False Millionaire says:

    Don’t u see that he missed the point so badly?
    He doesn’t have a clue that it was a gesture of good will to pass them a jaang’s gene in the hope he would father a son with Garang’s brain to save the naath masses.

  9. Bol says:

    I always find it weird when you cut your victims dead bodies into peices! Don’t tell you eat their flashes too as you do to the monkeys? How can a superior civilisation practice canabalism in 21st century? Equatorian Wonders!

    • Bol says:

      Lets keep the dialogue open. One day, love will prevail.

    • Roberto says:

      Neither we cut people into pieces nor we eat monkeys. If what you stated above is true then Equatoria will be free of your alike and we will not see Monkeys in our cities and streets. It is nice to see a likako like you taps himself on his own back, cheers and makes fun of himself.

      Roberto Kosongo ( Bana Equatoria )

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