South Sudan. Forced to flee but under siege
(text by Baptiste de Cazenove)
At the end of 2013, civil war breaks out in South Sudan. 33,000 Shilluk, a minority ethnic group, fled Malakal, a strategic town in the country's oil-rich north . Ever since, they have eked a living at a base of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), transformed into a protection of civilians facility, some 4km away from Malakal. These displaced people are under siege. They have no food but for the ever diminishing international aid that trickles in. They may soon become the last members of this ethnic group on their own land. Following violent combats to regain control from the rebels in July 2015, Malakal is a rubble. It is now a garrison city, inhabited by soldiers and their families. But the government is seeking to repopulate it with President Salva Kiir's own majority ethnic group, the Dinka. Two thousand settlers from the capital were brought in by plane in February. The remaining Shilluk are forced to flee to neighboring Sudan by the pressure exerted by army bombing and starvation. Their kingdom's capital, Wau Shilluk, fell in February to government forces. The Shilluk are the forgotten victims of ethnic cleansing at work in the world's youngest country, born in 2011 from the split of Sudan. At the UNMISS camp, women and children get ready to leave, with the hope of finding refuge in Sudan. Only women and children are allowed to depart by the loyalist troops; men must remain enclosed in their open sky prison. The UNMISS fears a final assault by government forces, even deadlier than the February 2016 attack on the camp. The Shilluk kingdom would then disappear and its ancestral culture vanish in exile.