2.Dispatch from South Sudan
The following is a dispatch by Fabio Bucciarelli from Yirol, South Sudan. Here he reflects on visiting the Mingkaman internally displaced persons (IDP) camp as well as an SPLA headquarters in Yirol and Nyang during his three weeks in-country.
In January, I decided to return to South Sudan, a country forgotten by the mainstream media, with only a few reporters and photographers on the ground.
The first time I visited the country was in May 2012. After years of war, South Sudan won its independence from Khartoum in the north. But the tensions in Unity, a state in the Upper Nile region of South Sudan, have never ceased. Located near the border, Unity remains unstable due to the area’s huge oil resources.
Feb. 17, 2014. SPLA government soldiers from Second Brigade during their morning meeting near Yirol.Fabio Bucciarelli for Al Jazeera America
I’ve spent the past three weeks here photographing amid the political struggle between the president, Salva Kiir, and his former deputy, Riek Machar. Now the conflict seems likely to turn into a full-on ethnic war between tribes: Kiir’s Dinka and Macar’s Nuer.
After a couple of days spent in Juba patiently dealing with the typical bureaucracy of a nascent country, I was able to make my way north. My destination was Bunagok, in Lakes State, a small village consisting of a few huts located in the South Sudanese steppe.
Feb. 19, 2014. Women grieve the loss of their home in a village between Mingkaman and Bunagok.Fabio Bucciarelli for Al Jazeera America
For an entire week, I traveled almost 100 kilometers a day on the bumpy road separating me from Mingkaman. In recent years, many of South Sudan’s resources have been devoted entirely to the military, leaving in the void a need for health care and infrastructure maintenance. Making your way outside Juba, paved roads quickly turn to mud, then disappear during the rainy season and complicate travel. A day’s drive can easily extend to day three as soon as the clouds open.
Feb. 19, 2014. Daily water collection at the Mingkaman refugee camp.Fabio Bucciarelli for Al Jazeera America
After a couple of hours, Mingkaman looms clear in the distance; the town has become home to a camp for internally displaced persons. The camp contains thousands who have fled north to escape the fighting in Bor. There, under a tropical sun, every household seeks a bare tree for rest in the shade during the hottest hours of the day. Aid organizations like the International Committee for the Red Cross distribute aid, but it is never enough.
Feb. 19, 2014. South Sudanese IDPs wait in a queue as food supplies are distributed in Mingkaman.Fabio Bucciarelli for Al Jazeera America
The Sudanese conflict (like, generally speaking, most conflicts in Africa) is largely invisible. I first noticed this tragic trend while photographing in Mali in May 2012. These wars are hidden and quick. It's hard to find front-line war photography of the kind we’ve seen in Libya or Syria. The images here in Mingkaman are different, more subtle: They describe visually the effect of the impending war, lending you a view of the civilian and military populations and providing a glimpse of life inside a murky, not clearly defined conflict.