Seeking Reconciliation in South Sudan’s Bitter Struggle

Kristin Wright | Open Doors USA | Friday, January 10, 2014

Seeking Reconciliation in South Sudan’s Bitter Struggle

In South Sudan, the military has divided against itself – creating yet another bloody struggle in the newly formed nation.

The conflict started in Juba on December 15, 2013. What began as strife within the presidential guard rapidly escalated to an ethnically-driven conflict, now threatening the nation’s fragile future.

More than 200,000 people have been displaced throughout South Sudan since violence began on December 15, the UN reports. The numbers are increasing by the day.

John Parach, a local government relief coordinator, says that refugees from the fighting are arriving every day. “People fleeing the fighting around Bor keep coming by boat every day,” he says. “We are doing our best to support them.”

A group of American doctors is seeking to bring reconciliation in the midst of the ethnically driven conflict – using improved sight as a way to help tribes see their neighbors differently.

As a condition for sight-restoring surgery, the doctors are asking that members of different tribes sit down and engage with the opposition.

“I always thought in many ways that the Dinka were devils and had horns, but they’re just like us,” one Murle tribe member reflected after his first encounter.

“That’s the kind of response we had and were so encouraged,” says Dr. Michael Yei of the Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah. “Getting your sight back is a major and powerful motivator for people. It just changes your life.”

Seeking Reconciliation in South Sudan’s Bitter Struggle