Peter Mokwe was in the wrong place at the wrong time when fighting broke out in Kadugli, Southern Kordofan State, on Monday afternoon.
The young Dinka man and 25 members of his extended family left Madni town in Jezira State and arrived in Kadugli 10 days ago. As returnees, they were heading to Aweil, their birthplace and the capital city of Southern Sudan’s Northern Bahr El-Ghazal State.
“Since the (Southern Sudan) referendum ended, we had been waiting for means that we had been promised would be available to take us home,” Mr. Mokwe said. “Finally, we gave up. We realized that 9 July (the date of southern independence) was coming and we wanted to be in Aweil by then.”
So the family began their trek, deciding to go through Kadugli, then Abyei to Warrap State and finally Aweil. On their way, fighting began in Abyei, so when they got to Kadugli 10 days ago, the family decided to stay there. They were told that the route to their destination was closed and they were also afraid of getting caught up in the insecurity of Abyei.
Little did they know that this morning they would join large numbers of people continuing to flow into an area that UNMIS in Kadugli had secured to protect vulnerable, internally displaced persons (IDPs).
When the warring parties had shown no signs of ceasing the conflict by the end of the second day of hostilities, UNMIS secured an area to temporarily settle the IDPs, said the mission’s head of office in Kadugli, Mark Rutgers
According to a statement released today by UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan George Charpentier, “An estimated 7,000 people have sought refuge near the UNMIS base in Kadugli.”
Mr. Charpentier expressed concern about the impact of the deteriorating security situation on civilians in Southern Kordofan.
Zahia Mugadan sat down helplessly as her child cried, unable to move to attend to his demands. Her feet were aching, she said, from walking more than 17 kilometres from Drjatalta village near Kadugli town.
“My husband was not at home when we fled,” she said. “With fighting going on, all I could think of was saving my life and my child’s. I don’t know if he is alive or dead.”
Women and babies cried as two jet fighters flew over the site in mid-morning, disappearing into the mountains and then returning shortly after.
“We’ve never seen this before,” said IDP Khamis Aldugal. “Even in the war before, it was not like this,” he said, shaking his head, but not explaining further.
Southern Kordofan was a principal battlefront state during the north-south civil war. During the elections in May this year, the local community expressed its desire to maintain peace in the state.