War orphans in South Sudan abandoned on streets

On World Day for War Orphans, victims say they lost their childhood

JUBA, South Sudan

In an ideal world, Albino Gore, 15, should have been under the care of his parents. But the teenaged boy lost both his parents to the lingering civil war in South Sudan.

Gore fled Kajo Keji, which became a ghost town in 2016 after fighting in the capital Juba spread to other cities. The result was a mass exodus from the city to refugee camps in neighboring Uganda.

Gore fled to Juba with his mother, who he says later abandoned him. His father died in the war.

On World Day for War Orphans which is observed on Jan. 6 every year, Gore told Anadolu Agency he begs, steals, and does odd jobs to fend for himself.

“I survive by begging and sometimes do manual work to get food. I am not even thinking of going to school because nobody is going to support me and what I get can’t afford school fees,” Gore said.

Thousands of children across the country have been separated from their parents during the devastating crisis which began in December 2013 and the long civil war with Sudan, according to the UN.

Some were left orphaned, while others had to separate with them while fleeing violence.

South Sudan fought a 22-year civil war for independence from Sudan, leaving much of the country shattered. The Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement took power at independence in 2011 but slid into crisis when President Salva Kiir sacked Riek Machar as vice president in December 2013 on suspicion of plotting a coup, followed by a protracted civil war that claimed tens of thousands of lives and forced 4 million people to flee their homes.

The 2018 agreement which ended the war has been bedeviled by bickering between rival parties, and key provisions of the deal are yet to be implemented.

On their own

Meanwhile, the sight of very young children hustling in Juba, just like Gore is many and heart-wrenching.

Some simply cannot contemplate what life has in store for them back home. Others fear returning to memories of the war.

Mayen John, 32, who lost his father in 1991, left school to become the breadwinner for his family after he lost his father to the civil war with Sudan.

“I have been on my own ever since. My father became a victim of a senseless war,” he said.

“The war in South Sudan both the liberation war and the 2013 and 2016 wars come with a lot of problems, most of the families or say many of the people, I know, have lost at least a relative and friend, others have got amputated arms or legs. Some have lost their support system.”

Ter Manyang Gatwech, executive director of the Juba-based Center for Peace and Advocacy, called upon the government to build a rehabilitation center for war orphans instead of leaving them on the street.

“There is a big impact, including trauma, which can cause mental health issues for the war orphans. The government should build a center for the orphans and provide them with basic care.”


Share this post