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mia farrow

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March 15, 2011

The Road to Abyei

The road to Abyei  is wide,  deeply rutted, and like the earth here, it is the color of vivid  brick.   Soon after after leaving the town of Agok (where my plane landed) I became aware of people and piles of household possessions - chairs, mattresses, pots, clothes - beneath trees and outside of huts.   Terrified by the recent  attacks upon their town, thousands of  citizens gathered their children and all they could carry- and they ran.  Some are staying with family members, others were simply under trees.  
Eleven-year-old Emanuel fled Abyei with his grandmother two weeks ago.  They walked some 20 miles carrying all they could. Emanuel tried to convey what it is like to be a child in a town that is being attacked.  “When I heard gunshots I ran home and I stayed inside.  We don’t know what is going to happen to us next,” Emanuel told me.  
Abyei town is eerily empty.  Almost all of the women and children have gone.  Houses are abandoned.  People left in haste.  Some men return during the day to check on their homes and possessions, but they leave before nightfall.  The town was quiet.  Scarcely a sound, no cars, just the occasional barking of a dog. The market place was virtually empty.  I saw one little boy fending for himself, scrounging for scraps of food.  He said he had not eaten for five days.  He is alone, hungry and scared.  

Chief Administrator of Abyei, Arop Deng, worries that the children of Abyei will soon be starving.  “The situation is desperate,” he said.  “We have run out of everything.  There is no water and there is very little food left.  People are terrified.”

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