A single mother's struggle for survival amidst chaos
It has been more than three months since the outbreak of conflict in the capital of Sudan, and despite hopes for quick resolution, fighting persist in various regions of the country. The ongoing violence has resulted in the displacement of thousands of people, many of whom have sought refuge in neighboring countries like South Sudan.
Posted on 01 Aug 2023
According to the UNHCR database, an astonishing number of approximately 148,538 individuals have crossed the borders into South Sudan by the end of June 2023.
Among those affected by this dire situation is Maria Nyalong Munthi. She is a 28-year-old, South Sudanese, single mother of a set of ten-month-old twins and a three-year-old girl.
Prior to the war in Sudan, Maria separated from the father of her children and is the sole provider for her family. Maria is on the move once again, looking for safety for her children.
It is estimated that more than 91.28% of the displaced individuals in South Sudan are South Sudanese returning to the country they once fled.
This is particularly challenging since South Sudan is already grappling with severe food insecurity, inter-communal conflict and the devastating impacts of climate change.
Various humanitarian organizations are coordinating the transportation of returnees from the border to the temporary transition centre in Renk to other locations across the country, including Malakal.
Maria, who set out on her journey from Sudan to find safety in early May, is currently in the process of resettling and holding onto the hope of a fresh start in Malakal.
Sadly, she has lost all hope of ever returning to her ancestral home in Jonglei, a place she was forced to leave six years ago due to violent conflict and destructive floods. She now has a profound sense of loss and disconnection from her roots.
Maria remains determined to protect her children and provide them with a safe home in spite of the challenges she faces.
When she arrived at the reception center in Malakal, one of her twins became sick, requiring urgent medical attention. Fortunately, Anjelina, DRC’s protection officer who was on the ground noticed Maria and her children during routine monitoring. She was quickly registered, and DRC provided her with money to get treatment at a medical facility.
I come from Jonglei state, but we left our village in 2016 when the war broke out and settled in Sudan. I was living in a refugee camp called Kotsi and I worked as a laborer. Our journey from Sudan to South Sudan was filled with hardship and stress. It took us two days to walk, but fortunately, we managed to find a truck that was transporting people to the border at Joda. We stayed at the reception center in the next town, Renk, for nine days before being transported to Malakal by boat. The journey from Renk to Malakal took us about five hours.
/ Maria Nyalong, a South Sudanese returnee from Sudan
During the midst of a devastating humanitarian crisis, the heart-wrenching sight of witnessing your own child endure unimaginable suffering while feeling utterly powerless to alleviate their pain is an indescribable agony. However, amidst this overwhelming darkness, Maria found a glimmer of hope that illuminated her path.
Maria confided, with a deep sense of gratitude, how she had lost hope and didn’t know what she could do if she was not identified and supported.
It was the support she received from DRC that became her lifeline, enabling her to swiftly rush her child to the nearest hospital, where the arduous journey of healing began.
With each passing day, Maria witnessed a flicker of improvement in her child's condition. The weight of despair that had once burdened her shoulders began to gradually lift, as hope and optimism replaced the overwhelming sense of helplessness that had consumed her.
The support provided by DRC not only offered Maria a glimmer of hope, but it also served as a beacon of light in the darkest of times.
It allowed her to access the necessary medical care and resources that were vital for her child's recovery. The compassion and assistance she received not only saved her child's life but also provided her with a renewed sense of strength and resilience.
As the healing process unfolded, Maria's gratitude grew deeper. The support she received not only provided tangible aid but also offered emotional solace during this harrowing ordeal.
It reminded her that she was not alone in her struggle and that there were people who genuinely cared and were willing to extend a helping hand.
In the face of such immense adversity, Maria's story stands as a testament to the power of compassion and solidarity. It serves as a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always a glimmer of hope that can guide us towards brighter days.
Through the support she received, Maria found the strength to endure and the belief that there is always a way to overcome even the most challenging circumstances.
I cannot fathom what I would have done if I had not received this unwavering support.
/ Maria Nyalong, a South Sudanese returnee from Sudan
Danish Refugee Council's Response to Sudan Conflict in South Sudan
As long as the conflict continues, people will use all of their resources and efforts to leave for safer places. DRC continues to provide critical emergency assistance for the vulnerable displaced persons.
Teams distribute Non-Food Items and Individual Cash Assistance, to support individuals at the reception centers across the country.
With approximately 2.2 million people already internally displaced in South Sudan, the crisis in Sudan is exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation in the country as returnees, refugees, and internally displaced persons are heavily reliant on humanitarian aid to survive.