With two civil wars fought back-to-back, the second, a 21-year old civil war, has caused massive and severe suffering for all the people of Dinka Hol, as well as all of Southern Sudan. This includes the massive displacement of its people, a total collapse of the social and economic infrastructure, and the increase or spread of preventable and treatable diseases in the area, that could be avoided if help is offered and if the people are educated with regard to public healthcare.
The poverty is unendurable, the illiteracy immeasurable, and although the violence has ended in the south, unfortunately there is still insecurity in the area and an unbearable death rate among the people, which has been caused by the war-related disaster and a lack of public awareness and international help, and so, it continues to climb. It has been estimated that 2 to 3.5+ million lives have been lost in the most recent Sudans’ civil war and from war related causes, and another 4.5 to 6+ million have been forced into exile in foreign countries, seeking protection in refugee camps, or they have been internally displaced.
(The first two decades of civil war ended in 1972, the numbers from that death toll and those displaced remains largely unknown and are largely thought to be similar.)
In the fall of 2000, approximately 3800 boys and girls, now known as The Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan, embarked on yet another journey to the United States of America from Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya after several years of massive suffering in many refugee camps in East Africa. Many have since become US citizens and have continued to pursue their education. Thousands more have also been granted refuge elsewhere and are scattered around the globe.
The families’ left behind living in the towns of Duk Padiet, Mareng, and Duk Payuel within former Duk County area are among some of those hardest hits by the mass-genocide and the last two decades of civil war.
Moreover, the entire population of Hol land and it surroundings has felt the negative impacts of both the civil war and the dreadful diseases that have both ranked as the worst of human caused catastrophes in recorded history. The destruction of their social and economic infrastructure, livestock and agricultural production, has forced them to migrate in massive numbers to neighboring countries and refugee camps in the Equatorial regions of Southern Sudan in order to avoid starvation.
The situation of these returnees upon their arrival to their native lands is of a great concern to the officials of Hol communities (Duk Padiet and Pagak Counties) as the health and living standards are very poor, as there are only a few health dispensaries and schools in the entire county. What little livestock the people have left are now dying of diseases as the owners watch helplessly and heavy rains constantly flood the area damaging the recently planted crops. In addition, as there are few schools for the children, they will have little or no access to public education or public healthcare information and all told will suffer from many more challenging situations that surely lay ahead.
Peace talks began in 2002, an accord was reached in 2004, and the final treaty was signed in 2005. During that time a separate conflict broke out in 2003 and continues today in the western region of Darfur. As of 2005 peacekeeping troops have struggled to stabilize the region. Estimates place the death toll at more than 500,000+ and more than another 4+ million have been displaced to date. In 2006 the Darfur Peace Accord (DPA) was signed and in 2007 an agreement to send in an additional 20,000 United Nations (UN) personnel to support the African Union (AU) force was reached, bringing the total commitment to 26,000. Violence continues to plague the region and April of 2007 was the bloodiest month for the African Mission in Sudan (AMIS) since 2004. As of January of 2008, the UN has failed to deploy its personnel, only 9000 AU troops have been deployed in the region, and most are under equipped African units.
Peace in the south continues to hold, but the Northern government is failing to honor all aspects of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA), rebel clashes still continue and violence in the southern regions is sporadic, as hope for success in the northern Darfur region at the most recent peace talks are high.
Since the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) and the hopeful political settlement of the Sudanese conflict in Darfur looming, several humanitarian organizations have become involved and tasked with the repatriations of the refugees from refugee camps in the neighboring countries and from the internally displaced population as well. It is estimated that well over 20+ thousand Internal Displaced People (IDPs) from former Duk-County alone will have presumably be transported back to their areas over the next few years with this onset of peace. Between January 1 and April 23, UNHCR reported that nearly 20,500 people had returned to Southern Sudan, compared to 17,000 in 2007 and approximately 42,000 in 2008.
Many of The Lost Boys, now men, since the signing of the 2005 CPA, have begun to return to South Sudan for the first time in over 20 years to help rebuild their communities. After people of South Sudan gained autonomy from the rests of Sudan in 2011, the hope was that this independent, would finally put an end to all hostilities after reaching a final peaceful resolution between the Northern and Southern Governments of Sudan once and for all. However, another wave of civil wars erupted in 2013 and 2016 between the President and his Vice President, prompting yet another immeasurable destruction, death, and mass exodus out of this young nation. Human Rights Watch estimated that almost two million people have been internally displaced since 2013 and another two million have fled and sought refuge in neighboring countries, with 1 million in Uganda alone. Reluctance and lack of accountability within South Sudan and from the international communities continued to fuel and ignite the violence.
Lost Boys of Sudan trekking across the desert bare feet between East African countries of Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya in late 1980's and early 1990's.
Photo: Radda Barnen, Pignudo, Ethiopia, June1989,
As one of the lead aid agencies with UNHCR, Radda Barnen, a Swedish Save the Children aid agency, was in Pugnido Refugee Camp when the boys start arriving from Sudan. They were on a project of collecting data to inform the policy for children rights pertinent to the 1959 United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Also, to appeal for support from donor countries like United States.
Photo: Personal file. Washington, DC, USA, 2020
After surviving insurmountable hardships, Thon Chuol Deng, also shown on the left, became one of the success stories these young boys have ever endured. He moved to the United States in 2000 and earned his bachelor's degree and Master's Degree in Social Work (MSW). He currently works as an Education Resource Specialist in the Office of Youth Empowerment within the Government of the District of Columbia.
Taste of Hol's women traditional performance (Rou)