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Crisis in South Sudan: More from the Diary of Anna Sambo

AVSI continues to publish the testimony of Anna Sambo, AVSI’s project coordinator in South Sudan. Her free flowing reflections jump from practical considerations to heartfelt observations. They speak of her life in Africa as an aid worker and of her growing awareness for the importance of her work. Here you will find one of the latest entries. More will follow soon. 


Februrary 27th, 2014 


South Sudan SunriseThree things: gunshots at night, Esteban the next morning, buying smoked fish. Last Wednesday and Thursday there were gunshots at night. I wake up at 3:43 AM. I can’t believe it. Unease, a little fear, anticipation, and doubt: are they going to stop or keep going? Then, half an hour later, I hear them again. Gunshots. And then again. Are they going to stop? Will they keep going? They do stop and morning comes.


Esteban, an Argentinian friend of Argentinian friends. I search for him because I know he’s around somewhere in the office where well have a meeting. We run into each other. We already feel like old friends after a minute and a half. I feel at home. I don’t think that they can come to an agreement. The rebels will only come to the negotiations if the government frees the political prisoners and sends home the Ugandan army, which is indispensable to the government. With the Ugandan army there, the rebels can’t make the “change” that Machar keeps speaking about.


Saturday night, February 14th, I’m in a “hotel” that’s more of a rat’s nest than a hotel. Still, I’m happy. I know they also sleep in a room like this, maybe even without a bed, or a penny. And even then there’s James, he’s 29 years old. He works with us. We’re returning together from Isohe, and he’s bought some smoked fish for his kids. James said to me, “You know, when a dad comes back from a trip, the kids always want a present.” It makes my heart ache. I want to do the same. We are the same.


There are gunshots again in the city. Our problem is that we don’t know if they’ll keep going or if they’ll end. Then they stop and the day is full of sunshine. People run. Then the meetings start and you feel like everything is an emergency again. Then you step outside into the sun and day is peaceful again, even if there are soldiers, weapons, and a tank parked in front of Salv’s house in Kir.


I drive around the city and I wonder what to make of all of this. The gunshots at night. The meeting with my Argentinean friend who made me feel at home. The present James gave to his children after his trip. The United Nations declared raised a Level 3 Humanitarian Emergency, but everyone fears that this won’t materialize into any actual aid, and very soon the rainy season will come, and those already without food will have even less.


Read more: 

Crisis in South Sudan: The Diary of Anna Sambo (First entries)

A Question Remains: AVSI and the Crisis in South Sudan