Photo credit: IOM/Muse Mohammed
Angelo is a former shelter assistant who worked for the Danish Refugee Committee (DRC) in the Malakal UN Protection of Civilians (PoC) site. A Shilluk and a local resident of Malakal, Angelo knew from an early age that he wished to enter priesthood. “For as long as I could remember, it’s been something I wanted to do. I even have the name for it!” he laughs.
Angelo went to Khartoum for his studies where he majored in philosophy. Returning to Malakal in 2009 he quickly realized that he had much larger priorities than entering priesthood. “Being one of the eldest in my family of ten, I realized that I needed to look after my family. I decided to go back to work so that my brothers and sisters could have a chance at an education.”
A few years ago, Angelo joined DRC as a shelter assistant working within the PoC. For his efforts, Angelo did manage to see many of his siblings graduate from their various studies.
Once the civil war erupted and the fighting reached to Malakal, Angelo was among the first wave of people who fled to the same UN PoC. “When the rebels came into the town we had little time to pack and we just ran.”
Since arriving to the PoC in late 2013, Angelo and his family have rarely ventured out of the camp. “Being Shilluk, it is very difficult for us to go into the town; it is not safe for us at all.”
“I have only left the PoC once and it was to see if my house was still there. It was burned down to the ground with nothing left. It was all gone. I have never had any reason to go back since.”
This would not be the last time that he and his family would have to endure such a tragedy. On February 17th, 2016 fighting erupted within the Malakal PoC between rival groups resulting in the deaths of 18 people and the destruction entire blocks of homes within the camp due to fire.
“I was asleep at the time but then I woke to some people shouting and all of a sudden gun shots started going off from within the PoC itself. I managed to gather some documents and clothing and we left.”
Standing on the ashy remains of his home Angelo and his family find themselves displaced yet again.
“It’s amazing really. It is hopeless. This is what many of us feel while living here; hopelessness.”
One of his main concerns is not just the loss of his home but the spread of diseases that might happen in the coming rainy season. “With all of these people out in the open, some have even had to set up homes in ditches which are going to be flooded when the rainy season comes. Living conditions like this can lead to diseases being spread easily. An outbreak can kill even more people than guns.”
Now Angelo and his family seek shelter under a large truck near a depot at the PoC.
“We are all ready to go back to where we lost our homes but there is simply no guarantee of safety anymore.”
“If there was a way to guarantee security, a change for us to get an education that could lead to work then we would happily go back to our sector block or anywhere that could offer that hope.”