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All are vulnerable in Pibor

Posted by Atem Dut, Plan South Sudan Communications Officer

Atem Dut8 February 2012: The vulnerability of the Murle people after Nuer raiders overran Pibor county in South Sudan is obvious. The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service aircraft that brought us here struggled  to land - its pilots complained that there were too many people on the airstrip. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in their tens of thousands were attending a food distribution nearby.

Other IDPs are returning from the bushes where they have been hiding for 2 weeks, and  hundreds of children are waiting to be unified with their families. It is a beehive of activities.

I briefly recalled stories about Pibor from my childhood – of people abducting kids, raiding cattle and killing children who resist their orders.

As an aid worker, these did not ride over my mission to improve the life of the most vulnerable. I am here because I want to be actively involved in solving problems that affect children, youth and their community, and this is the right place to do that. So I came out of the aircraft set to stay.

All hungry

Baby on mother's back, South Sudan

A pregnant mother carries her child to Plan's food distribution point in Pibor county

"They are all hungry. We will distribute food until sunset," Plan South Sudan’s project coordinator James Baba told me.

Before this crisis the Murle tribe was already facing a food crisis. The situation is not likely to get better as the little food they had was not spared by the blazing fires. They also lack clean drinking water.

The socio-economic status of the Murle people is circumscribed to cattle. Everybody competes to have cows. There is little farming and fishing along seasonal rivers and streams in Pibor.

Fear on faces

After the Lou Nuer attacked the Murle community in December, at least 1,000 people have died, more than 180 children abandoned and 375,186 cows raided. The Pibor county commissioner is currently taking care of 35 children who have been separated from their families.

Fear is written across their faces. Any kind of commotion - even dusty whirlwinds - cause so much anxiety. These people need reassurance that they are protected and their children need care.

Read about Plan's emergency response in Pibor county

Find out more about Plan’s work in South Sudan

Feb 08, 2012 04:00 PM