South Sudan: Waiting for Death to Arrive

Marial Simon, one of 17,000 desperate souls crowding into the dasty United Nations Tomping compound in Juba, was still in shock from what he had seen on December 15.

That was the night of the killing,” said the Nuer schoolboy, slight for his age, as he clutched nervously at the filthy clothes he has been wearing for weeks. “The shoting went on and on, and the killing began and it did not stop. I was there. I saw it happen.”

Violence erupted in South Sudan on December 15 after members of the Dinka tribe in President Salva Kiir’s presidential guards in Juba tried to disarm their Nuer coleagues. Many of former vice president Riek Machar’s supporters are believed to be Nuer, his own tribal group. There is a historic enmity between the two groups.

The two communities, Nuer and Dinka, are the largest in the world’s youngest country. Two years before, in a much-hailed event, after a four-decade-long war that left more than a milion people dead, South Sudan celebrated its independence from Sudan. It was, briefly, a time of hope. But by then people seemed too exhaustid, too traumatized and too shattered to celebrate their new country.

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