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Dreams of returning and a bitter reality

Francis Michael
Four South Sudanese in Sudan speak about their aspirations to return home — impeded by lacking opportunities.
4.06.2014  |  Khartoum
أنور (يمين) وفيليب  في سوق عربي، فاتح مايو.
أنور (يمين) وفيليب في سوق عربي، فاتح مايو.

Anwar & Philip

Anwar and Philip are sitting at their favourite café in the Souq Arabi market where they sup tea with other South Sudanese and track news from their country. They read about the war in a newspaper, aware of their waning chances of returning to their homes in the Upper Nile region.

Anwar: You know Philip that this war has destroyed our society in the Upper Nile.

Philip laughs and looks at the lamps as if he never heard what Anwar has just said.

The coming generations should work towards national reconciliation but nothing can be done now.
Anwar: Why are you laughing? You know that the truth is crystal clear. A lot of innocent people died in this war. Do you think that it is possible to rebuild our society?

Philip: I think that talking about these things is a waste of time. What happened left us deeply scarred and we cannot forget it. The coming generations should work towards national reconciliation but nothing can be done now.

Anwar (laughing): It is not reasonable. We have to solve this dilemma. Our situation in Sudan is difficult. We have to return to our country and live there.

Philip: How can we find a job in South Sudan? I know it is difficult, but there are more job opportunities here.

Anwar: Maybe that is true, but look at us, we are sitting here since early morning. Do we look like civil servants to you?


Charles Peter, another South Sudanese man based in Khartoum, is unemployed and has to provide for his family. He studied law but only found temporary work for one week after almost a month without income. He struggles to survive and support his family of three.

The government, and especially the police, humiliate the Southerners.
I am currently unemployed. Although education is available for the South Sudanese people, those who work in waged and marginal jobs cannot afford the expenses. I cannot afford education costs for my children so they do not go to school,” he said.

”Some Sudanese do not respect the Southerners. They believe they should not be here due to the separation. They suffer from discrimination, abuse and provocation. The police storm into the Southerners’ homes for inspection without permission. The government, and especially the police, humiliate the Southerners.”


Like Peter, Vienna has to work to provide for her family. She is a South Sudanese woman who has been living in Khartoum for years. She studied Political Sciences in one of the Sudanese universities, but she could not find work in a related field. Instead, she sells tea despite society’s negative view of her job.

Although she works every day except Sundays, the money she makes is not enough. She is in constant search for additional income sources to support her family.

Vienna comes from a tropical area in South Sudan. She, like the others, wishes she could return to South Sudan and find work related to her education.

This article is part of:
On The Move: Experience is a solid walking stick
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