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Separated by conflict, South Sudanese family reunited

Separated by conflict, South Sudanese family reunited

South Sudan

Jorgina strains to hug her son Emmanuel who is now taller than she last saw him three and a half years ago.

Separated by the chaos of the south Sudanese civil war, which has displaced many families and killed tens of thousands, the mother and son have now been reunited after many attempts.

The conflict has pushed an estimated 3.7 million people to flee their homes.

On December 24, 2013, just days after the fighting began between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and those backing his former deputy Riek Machar, a rebel offensive on Malakal forced Emmanuel to flee.

His family fled when news of an imminent offensive spread while he was running an errand.

“I was sent to the market. When I got back, my parents and relatives were not home. I stayed at home for 3 days but no one showed up’‘, Emmanuel recalls.

In Juba, an acquaintance put Emmanuel in touch with a woman from his ethnic group who hosted him while he searched for his family.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, has been working to reunite families separated by the conflict, Emmanuel benefitted from this assistance:

ICRC’s Celine Croon said, ‘we are still looking for 1,800 people. This has doubled in the last year. A year ago we had half of this number. Obviously the conflict is still very intense and ongoing and the case of Equatoria state is especially significant because there the case load is ten times bigger’.

Once separated families are identified, they mostly communicate by phone, and the International Committee of the Red Cross has already logged some 33,000 calls this year.

Emmanuel’s mother intends to seek refuge in neigbouring Sudan and send her son back to school but his future remains uncertain even as he could move from being a displaced teen to a refugee soon.

AFP

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