Life in South Sudan’s protection camps

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Tue, 16 Aug 2016 10:30 AM
Author: Arjun Claire
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They were meant to last for three days. But come December, they will have existed for three years. The United Nations Protection of Civilian sites have been shielding close to 200,000 people in South Sudan since December 2013, when the civil war first exploded in the world's youngest country.

As soon as violence spilled on to the streets, people ran to U.N. bases across South Sudan to seek safety from conflict. The United Nations opened its gates, hoping that people would return as soon as the situation stabilised.

But the civil war has dragged on, and shows no signs of abating, despite a peace agreement that was signed in August 2015. So people continue to languish in the six protection sites across South Sudan. These sites, or more appropriately, displacement camps, have begun to resemble semi-permanent settlements with enterprising residents setting up makeshift shops, tea stalls, hair salons and money transfer facilities.

Beneath the allure of a vibrant tent city, however, runs a strong undercurrent of fear, uncertainty and hopelessness that marks people's lives in the camps.

Arjun Claire is a humanitarian worker based in Switzerland.