By CORRESPONDENT, Five years ago on July 9, South Sudan became the world’s newest country.
Since, then, in spite of the enormous excitement and hope with which the country was born, a civil war has claimed more than 50,000 lives and devastated the economy. A fragile peace was struck in August 2015 and has so far held, though there remain deep wounds to heal.
We went to South Sudan thinking we’d take photos of women who are working on peace issues.
And we certainly did that. But what I realized early in the trip was that everyone here has lost someone.
We decided to spend time asking subjects to talk about their loved ones and people they’ve lost. Below you’ll find portraits of people who are all bonded by loss.
Photographed inside a displaced people’s camp run by the South Sudanese government and on the streets of Juba—the capital—these ordinary men, women and young people are calling on governments around the world to help the peace to hold in South Sudan.
The conflict in South Sudan struggles to get the attention of the international media. It’s mostly seen by outsiders as being the result of infighting between corrupt politicians and generals who have no care for the civilian population, who have ruined a country that could have fared much better had they not squandered its potential for their personal gain.
The conflict is not entirely ignored by governments in the international community, but the low level of media coverage makes it very difficult for civil society organizations to persuade governments to keep up political effort for resolving the conflict, and to provide more humanitarian funding.
We hope these portraits show another side of South Sudan and some of the powerful people who live there.
See some of Fogarty’s portraits from South Sudan below, and see more at the Dear World South Sudan website.
By Robert X. Fogarty
Martha Korok, Mangaten IDP Camp, Juba.
At the time the crisis broke out, Martha was in Malakal. She moved to Juba because she lost her brother, Korok. When he died, she no longer had any support for her family; her husband is still in the frontline in Unity state. Now, she is stranded in a camp for the displaced in Mangaten, Juba.
Betty Lamono, Mangaten IDP Camp, Juba.
Betty, now in Mangaten camp, lost her husband in the war. Without children, she is completely alone and finds it extremely painful to stay in the camp.
Rebecca John, Mangaten IDP Camp, Juba.
Rebecca, from Anuak, lost 3 uncles and her beloved sister, Nuakuti, in Malakal. She is now taking care of her sister’s children in the protection camp, mourning the loss in her family.
Caroline Ako, Mangaten IDP Camp, Juba.
Caroline, an elderly woman from Peri, did not lose anyone from her family. She is blind and feels lost in the Mangaten camp for displaced people Juba’s . She says that for her what is important is having God in her life.
Margret Ayajohn, Mangaten IDP Camp, Juba.
Margret, from Magwi county, lost her son Pasquali in Mundri. She also recently lost her daughter-in-law in a bus hijacking, and she now takes care of their two children at in Mangaten camp, Juba.
Amoot, now at Mangaten camp in Juba, lost her brother in the conflict, and does not know the whereabouts of his children. She says that she’s really tired.
Mary Moses, Mangaten IDP Camp, Juba.
Mary, from Marlei, fled Malakal to Mangaten camp in Juba when war broke out. She now takes care of 7 children in the camp, without the support of her husband who stayed behind. She complains that life in the site is difficult, and there is a general lack of food supplies. She wants to return home to Pibor but cannot because roads have been blocked.
Bling Auol, Mangaten IDP Camp, Juba.
Bling fled Malakal to Mangaten camp in Juba after her husband died. Her favourite memory of him was when he supported her and her children’s education. She hopes that her children can get a proper education and become “good people” like her husband.
Awel Mayom, Mangaten IDP Camp, Juba.
Awel, from Banel, has been separated from her sons in the conflict. She has also lost her uncle’s daughter whom she considered as her own child. She hopes for peace so that people can stop “feeling lost”.
Jane lost her husband and might have lost her daughter when conflict broke out in Mundri. Now taking care of her grandchildren in Mangaten camp, she mourns her loss and prays that her daughter is still alive: “I hope you’re alive. I need you.”
Akello Loyca, Mangaten IDP Camp, Juba.
Akello, taking shelter at Mangaten camp, lost her close friend in the conflict. She sees hope in South Sudan’s children, believing that children can help people regain lost loved ones. She hopes for South Sudan’s suffering to end so that people can live in harmony as one nation.
Benson Charles La Kema. Mangaten IDP Camp, Juba.
Benson lost his wife in the first days of conflict in Juba. Suffering from polio, he is now left alone taking care of his four children at Mangaten Camp.
Deng Magi Shol, Juba.
Deng’s cousin, Mondoj, was killed by crossfire during the conflict. Deng remembers fondly how his cousin supported him in life, and considers him as his brother. He wishes his cousin were alive so that they can continue to live “the good life”.
Habib Aladubesher, Juba.
Habib remembers fondly how life was in peacetime, when communities were lively and there was no hate. She lost her cousin, a police officer with a family, and now her family is sending money to support them. She finds the economic situation in South Sudan very difficult, saying that many children are homeless and resort to criminality. She calls for acceptance in her country.
James Momadu, Juba.
James, from Western Bahr El Ghazal, had been child soldier in his youth. He stopped when he realized that what he was doing was wrong and unhealthy. He simply wants South Sudan to get back to how it was before the conflict.
Lombe Robert Le Juemmanuel, Juba.
Lombe lost several classmates and football-mates in the conflict. He hopes that South Sudan will stop resorting to bullets to solve problems.
Nunu Gloria Yona, Juba.
Nunu, now in Juba, has been separated from her family. She doesn’t let adversity bring her down, saying that she is always filled with happiness. She hopes for peace and unity in her country.
Titus Opoka Logwino
Titus, who works for Support the Children Organization (SUTCO), calls for a timely implementation of the peace agreement. He lost his father in the conflict while studying in Uganda and has now returned to South Sudan to help his family and community.
Thomas Dai, Juba.
Thomas, a cartoonist working with Juba Monitor, has been separated from his mother for over two years since the start of the conflict. He also lost his childhood friend, Simon, whom he would regularly spend time with watching cartoons. He hopes for peace and stability in the country: “we have to open a reconciliation between us.”
South Sudanese people share their messages of peace on the 5th anniversary of their country’s independence.