South Sudan's war leaves disabled, elderly at special risk

2017-06-04 14:01
(iStock)

(iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bentiu - More than one million disabled people are vulnerable to the increasing violence of South Sudan's brutal civil war.

Mary Nyakwas lost her leg to a crocodile while fleeing the fighting. She and her four children had taken refuge from the conflict in a nearby swamp when the reptile attacked her.

Now the 30-year-old sits on the floor of her hut in a civilian protection camp in Bentiu, running her finger over the curve of her stump. Nyakwas relies on friends and neighbors to bring her water and food. Without them, she says, she'd starve.

"I can't do anything for myself now," she says.

When clashes break out, South Sudan's disabled and elderly are often unable to flee and are sometimes shot, hacked to death or burned alive, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.

Internally displaced 

The disabled and older people "find themselves at much greater risk of starvation or abuse," the Human Rights Watch report said, urging the United Nations and aid groups to do more to assist the vulnerable.

As South Sudan's civil war moves well into its fourth year, aid workers are struggling to meet the needs of 1.9 million internally displaced people. An estimated 250 000 are disabled and living in the UN civilian protection sites across the country, the World Health Organisation says.

Even in the camps, many end up living in squalor with little assistance.

Nyakwas has been offered some help. The International Committee of the Red Cross planned to fly her to the capital, Juba, so she could be fitted with a prosthetic limb. But she didn't want to leave her children behind.

The ICRC says it is looking into creating small mobile units to operate in more remote areas of the country. But because of a recent increase in fighting, the organization has put such projects on hold.

'Why did God make me this way?'

The UN humanitarian agency said many aid groups are trying to respond to the needs of the disabled and elderly. It also called on all parties in the conflict to spare the most vulnerable from the "scourge of war."

Another young South Sudanese woman, Nyang Maria, has never been able to use her legs, but she says life was easier before she came to live in the Bentiu camp.

As she can't stand up, the 19-year-old is forced to sit on the camp's filthy latrines, which are rarely cleaned and full of feces.

"Before, I could go to the bathroom anywhere," Nyang says. "Here, there are just a few toilets and they're all full of disease."

In order to increase her mobility, the International Organisation for Migration gave her a special-needs tricycle, but she says the tires keep bursting because of the camp's gravel roads. It now sits idle in the corner of her home. She lies limp on the floor beside it.

"Why?" she says, tears streaming down her face. "Why did God make me this way?"

Read more on:    un  |  south sudan  |  east africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/World
 

French Bulldog helps kids with facial differences

Lentil Bean is a french bulldog who was born with a severe cleft nose, lip and palate.

 
 

Paws

Weird things dogs do
Makeover saves dog’s life
For the love of Corgis!
Can we communicate with our pets?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.