International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Lives in limbo in South Sudan

More than two million Sudanese have returned to their homes in the south since the 2005 peace agreement ended 50 years of brutal civil war in their country. In January 2011, the people of southern Sudan voted overwhelmingly to secede and create their own nation.
A great many of those returning to South Sudan have managed to reclaim their ancestral lands or are being supported by relatives. But others, such as Kuc Garang, a young man I met at the Aweil Railway Station transit camp, are living in limbo. Kuc, who arrived last December, plans to stay on until he can reunite with his family, who remain in Khartoum, where his father moved them two decades ago to find work.
“I was born in the south but went with my family to Sudan as a baby,” Kuc tells me. “When I arrived here I was very happy, because in the north life isn’t good. There is no freedom. Here everyone is free to do what they want. But the problem is, there is no food.”
Kuc, 21 years old, has been working odd jobs in Aweil—as a water seller, cleaner, security guard— trying to make ends meet while he waits. “In Khartoum, I almost went to school,” he recalls. “But my dad, who worked as a guard in a factory, died, so I couldn’t go. I was rounded up one day by the police with other boys and taken to train in the Sudan army, but I didn’t fight. When South Sudan got its independence, the government handed us over to an aid organization, who sent us here.”
Kuc patiently awaits the arrival of his mother and brother, but no trains from Khartoum have come into Aweil station for a long time. Now that the rainy season has begun, trucks carrying returning families cannot get through, either.
“I don’t have contact with my family,” he laments. “I lost the piece of paper that I had their phone number on when I was washing my clothes. I miss them, but I have been told that they will come.”

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