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Running to the bush: A journalist’s story of fleeing in fear

O. Hannington
Christine Anzio Wani is a journalist who fled her home in Morobo. Now she and her ailing young daughter sleep in the bush for fear of violence.
18.07.2016  |  Morobo, South Sudan
A child in a UNMISS Protection-of-Civilians site in Juba, July 16, 2016. (photo: UNMISS | Ilya Medvedev)
A child in a UNMISS Protection-of-Civilians site in Juba, July 16, 2016. (photo: UNMISS | Ilya Medvedev)

Right now I don’t plan for the future, anymore. I live one day at time because I know anything can happen. The situation is horrific and tense.

Last Thursday I started walking at 10 in the evening when I heard news we had few hours to escape from an attack. I went deeper into the bush with my neighbours.

“Gunmen are in Lainya, and are coming towards our town. They are killing people they find on their way,” one of my neighbours said.

You can’t tell what is true or false.

Since violence broke out in Juba anxiety and panic spread fast. There was a lot bad news from different sources – sometimes we get false information or rumours, spread by word of mouth and on social media. You can’t tell what is true or false. In about half an hour the town and its surroundings were deserted.

I decided I couldn’t risk staying here by myself. I quickly put my child on my back, picked up a few valuables and joined the rest of the people because I am terrified to walk in the bush all alone, especially when it is dark.

On Monday, July 11, the UN Radio Miraya, broadcast that President Salva Kiir ordered a ceasefire. That was good news. But a lot of rumours are still circulating here, causing a lot of fear.

Most heads of families relocated their families to villages. Many other residents, including my neighbours, left the country, managing to get to Uganda.

But right now it is not easy to get away because of dangerous road blocks. It is also difficult to walk through the bush where there are gunmen.

Now the few of us who are still stuck here in Morobo only stay at home during the day, then we move silently on foot back into the bushes when the sun goes down.

When you see people preparing to leave their houses, at anytime of the day you don’t ask. You just immediately do the same. It is usually a sign of news of a possible attack. This is the kind of life we are living in Morobo right now.

Recently we got hopeful information from the governor of Yei River County plus his officials. “We have deployed a good number of soldiers to protect citizens and their property. The situation is under control. The people who were causing fear are arrested,” the announcement said.

But such words have not changed our reality. We are still running into the bush everyday, and every night. Once I get the opportunity, I intend to relocate to Uganda with my family.

I’m tired of this kind of life!

Sometimes we walk and stay in the rain the whole night. I’m tired! I’m tired of this kind of life! Sometimes we walk all night long, while it rains on us! I fear for my child.

Every night is wet and cold for her. She shivers uncontrollably. Apart from, malaria, I suspect she has caught pneumonia, too. Right now it is difficult to get proper medication. Most hospitals and clinics are closed.

Only few shops are open, but most of them are almost empty. Furthermore, prices are hiked up high. When I went to buy my baby’s supplies, I realised I could barely afford anything.

“A 500-gramme tin of baby milk costs 500 South Sudanese Pounds,” a shopkeeper said.

But there was nothing I could do about it – I went ahead because my daughter needed the milk. That same milk used to cost 45 South Sudanese Pounds (US$ 0.9). Everything is too expensive now.

After so many sleepless nights in the bush, seeing all this chaos around, the fear inside me just keeps mounting. When will it stop?

This article is part of:
#Pressfreedom: Under attack
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