August 29 2014

Displaced SOS families in South Sudan get new temporary village

Finishing touches -- including taps for running water -- are still being installed at the new temporary SOS village, but each family now has its own house and the children have a safe place to play again. Photo: Kiros Aregawi

Six months after being driven from their homes by looting soldiers, families from SOS Children’s Village Malakal enjoyed moving into their brand new, temporary village

29 August 2014 - After six months of living in confined and cramped quarters in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, SOS Children’s Villages families displaced from their SOS village in Malakal by rebel soldiers have moved into a spacious temporary village in Jebel, a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Juba.

In the early morning of 18 August, families packed their belongings and were ferried to the new site, 20 kilometres away, in hired trucks. As the trucks left, the SOS young people sang: “Bye bye Tong Ping (the name of the guest house where they had been staying in cramped quarters for more than half a year), welcome Jebel”.

Moving day: The displaced SOS families pack their belongings into the moving truck to move to their new, temporary village on the outskirts of Juba. Photo: Kiros Aregawi
In the new temporary village, children ran and chased each other - as if enjoying freedom for the first time. “I have a place to call home,” said 12-year-old Samuel. “There is enough room to play football.”

Mary Gwa, an SOS mother since 2002, said: “Privacy with my children is what I desire most right now. We have our own house with three spacious rooms. We will sleep comfortably – no congestion. In the guest house, families were confined to a small space. We survived, but it was not easy.

”The finishing touches are still being applied. Toilets are being plastered and the water system is yet to be fixed so mothers can have access to water on tap. At the moment they are fetching water with Jerry cans from a tank.

The temporary village's round outdoor kitchen is shared by all the families. Photo: Kiros Aregawi

“We will triumph over the challenges and soon the village will be fully operational,” said project manager Kiros Aregawi. “To see the families settle into their new houses brings joy to my heart. They have been through so much. It is time the children and mothers felt a sense of stability. Mothers can now begin to adorn their spaces and to proudly claim the houses as theirs.”

Village director Charles Banja said: “Malaria cases will be less frequent because the beds are fitted with mosquito nets. The disease is prevalent during the rainy season and has been a major concern.”

For more stories and background on the situation for the SOS families in South Sudan, please click here.

Fighting continues in some parts of South Sudan

Sporadic fighting continues in South Sudan despite the signing of two peace agreements between the warring sides. In mid- August clashes were reported in Unity State between government and rebel forces. Troop movement has been reported in Malakal, raising fears of new clashes in the area of the former SOS Children's Village.
A new round of peace talks – focused on ending the eight-month war that has displaced 1.8 million people and left 10,000 dead – began in early August in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. East African leaders have given both sides of the conflict six weeks, beginning on 25 August, to find common ground on the formation of a transitional government.
Meanwhile, aid agencies have warned that about four million people are facing high levels of food insecurity, while 235,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. About 50,000 children could die if not treated in a timely and appropriate manner, according to health authorities.