South Sudanese Winnipeggers are calling on the international community to step in to end a bloody conflict in South Sudan, after more than 1,000 killings in the past week.
“This is the worst Christmas anyone could get,” said Daniel Mach, who is originally from Bor, Sudan, where much of the violence has taken place in recent weeks.
The region, about 200 kilometres north of the capital of Juba, is now the epicentre of a growing battle. After decades of bloodshed between South Sudan and the north over ethnicity and oil, South Sudan finally achieved independence about two years ago, making them the world’s newest country.
But new tensions in Bor have threatened to throw the country back into civil war.
The South Sudanese president has accused the country’s former vice president of trying to overthrow him, and now ethnic groups are clashing.
David Mabior Atem is from the region and now lives in Winnipeg. He said the reasons for the conflict are complex, making it difficult to find a solution.
“The trauma of the war, the lack of services, the culture of seeing ourselves as ethnic individuals rather than as people of the same nation” are all contributing factors, he said.
Philip Thiong is a priest in the area who hopes politicians will step up to broker a peace deal.
“If there is any differences, [they] cannot be solved by guns — by killing innocent civilians, by involving communities,” he said. “[We’re] quite concerned and worried. Is this what we were fighting for?”
Back in Winnipeg, Mach is desperate to get in touch with his relatives, who he hasn’t been able to reach so far.
“It’s a mixed feeling of desperation, loneliness [and] helplessness,” said Mach. “I feel like I should be there.”
Mach, Atem and Thiong are all watching and waiting for someone to step in to end the bloodshed.