Photo credit: IOM/Muse Mohammed
Sitting on a bed within a dilapidated church compound, Sarah is among the many former residents of the Malakal UN Protection of Civillians (PoC) site, who have moved back to Malakal town following ethnic fighting within the PoC. Like Sarah, nearly all the ethnic Dinkas have since left the PoC.
Originally from Malakal Town, Sarah and her husband were farmers within the town where they grew an assortment of crops to sell in the local marketplace. “My husband had a large plot of land where he would grow his crops while I had my own private garden at the house to feed my family.”
As soon as the war reached Malakal town in 2013 she fled with her family of eight to the UN PoC where they sought shelter.
One day, an opportunity came for Sarah and her family escape to Juba through a chartered flight offered by a local oil company. The flight would require her and her family to travel out to the far away town of Paloich. Unfortunately for Sarah, she had lost her leg in 1995 in a car accident north of Khartoum and has been disabled since. Unable to make the long trek up to Paloich she made the difficult decision to stay behind, while her husband took their 6 children to Juba in hopes of a better life.
“It was a painful choice to make but I could not stop them because of me. I want my children to have a chance at having an education. I told them that I would be fine staying in the PoC where I would be looked after hoping that it would make them feel better about going.”
All that changed in late February following the ethnic clashes between rivalling groups. Being a member of the group largely believed to be responsible for the attack, Sarah had no choice but to leave, fearing revenge attacks on her.
Now seeking refuge in the town, Sarah does not have access to the same level of assistance as she would normally get within the PoC. “I still get in contact with my family regularly but they are also struggling in Juba. When you are outside of the PoC you have to pay for everything with money we often don’t have.”
“They are starting to contemplate on whether they want to come back to Malakal. It is difficult to make ends meet in Juba as well as in Malakal but at least they will be with me.”