Mary traveled back to Sudan this past weekend. She went to her home area of Pibor and see first hand the aftermath of the situation there. For those that are not aware, a large group of Lou Nuer (an ethnic group of Southern Sudan), estimated to be anywhere from 6000 to 8000 in total, swept through parts of Pibor county burning, looting, killing and stealing whatever they could get their hands on. It is thought that up to 100,000 people may have been displaced by this violence. It is also feared that 3000, if not more, were killed during these attacks. Mostly women and children.
When I talked with her on the phone Sunday, I don’t think I had ever heard her so sad and dejected before. She said many people were coming back from hiding in the bush looking for food in Pibor and not finding anything. The little money that she had she gave out to some relatives but she knew it wasn’t enough to do much of anything.
She was also very frustrated that there seemed to be very little response taking place. The WFP had reported that they were delivering food, but Mary didn’t see much of anything while she was there. She said she saw three bags of maize delivered one morning and that that was supposed to be the daily ration. She knows it is not going to be enough.
The most frustrating feeling she and so many of her people are having now is that no one cares. The government can’t really be bothered to do much of anything. The UN, while they attempted to help avert the conflict in the beginning, failed miserably and now seem to be trying to cover up the fact that they were not as effective as they want the whole world to think they were.
The UN just released a statement yesterday saying that there is absolutely no evidence that there was any mass killings during the time of the attacks. They still have not released their own estimate and claim that the numbers of dead given out by the commissioner cannot be correct because there is no way for him to go to all the villages and verify. One could use the same arguement to say that there is no way they can verify that those numbers are not correct if they havn’t bothered to visit all the locations themselves.
It just seems irresponsible to release several news reports in consecutive days denying that a large number of people died when the focus right now should be on how to take care of the ones that are still alive. Because if they are not attended to very soon… that estimate of 3000 may double or triple.