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March 11, 2011

Yambio, Western Equatoria, south Sudan

Very rare access to internet.  Here in Yambio the talk is not of independence- although everyone I spoke with voted for it.  Here the talk is of the LRA. 
Since 2008, 20-30 thousand people have been driven from their homes by LRA attacks. I visited a camp for the displaced where people crowded around me saying "my child was stolen, my mother/father/brother/uncle  was killed, they cut up my baby and crushed his body with a morter." The killing and crushing of the bodies of babies have been witnessed by many people, on many different occasions,  from different villages. People are living in terror. " I go to sleep at night and I don't know if I will e alive in the morning,"said  Christine who was holding a beautiful little girl.  Christine had been asleep in the early morning when the LRA attacked her village. The chief sounded the alarm-  a distinct call that can mean only one thing.   She managed to take the infant lying beside her, and she ran for her life.   But Christine was not able to reach her toddler. She never saw the child again.
I spoke with several children who had been abducted by the LRA. One little boy was too traumatized to talk to anyone.   He had been forced to kill his father. Sister Giovana is one of four Italian nuns caring for this boy and 75 other children. She is particularly gentle with him.
"I came to South Sudan after many years in the North of Uganda," Sister Giovana said.  "That is why I want to mention also these children: thousands of boys and girls who have been abducted by the same group of rebels - children who have been taught to beat, to kill without mercy .... Those who are able to escape, they come back traumatized, they are no more the same ....  One boy was asked to kill his father, he did so, breaking his neck and head with a log.  This boy now free is often crying and sobbing for what he has done.  Another boy revealed that he killed 82 people, he was obliged to cut one of them with a machete into pieces.  Do you think they will ever forget what they did?  I am appealing to you - please protect them, put an end to this LRA group who destroys mind, heart, body everything."  
Sister Giovana was clear about the priority here:  "Security, security, security."    
My plan and hope is in place to reach Abyei by Monday, but of course the situation is volatile and anything can happen.
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