Hundreds are dead as tensions continue to rise in the country
By Austin Grabish, CBC News
Posted: Jul 22, 2016 5:00 AM CT
Last Updated: Jul 22, 2016 5:00 AM CT
The Winnipeg grandmother returned home Thursday from a peacekeeping trip to Rumbek that came to a crashing halt due to escalating violence in South Sudan.
Recent clashes between the country’s military and rebel forces have left at least 300 dead. Andrea was in Juba, South Sudan’s capital when fighting erupted on July 7th.
“We saw people running,” she said. “We saw the bodies.”
Andrea said she ran to the concrete home she was staying in when the violent clash happened and credits it with saving her life.
“I was just so scared.”
Speaking in her Winnipeg home Thursday, she said she thought to herself, “I’m there. My children are here, and somebody could die anytime.”
She said she worried she was going to be caught in the crossfire when she was trying to make it home to Winnipeg. The country’s airport was shut down due to the escalating violence, and the Canadian embassy was also closed.
‘We didn’t expect that kind of thing would happen again’
Andrea, who immigrated to Winnipeg in 1998 from South Sudan, said the killings in her country shocked her.
“We didn’t expect that kind of thing would happen again.”
“It’s out of control,” she said as a poster of Nelson Mandela hanging in her living room peeked over her shoulder.
South Sudanese community grappling with news
Reuben Garang, a South Sudanese man, who is better known as a ‘Lost Boy’ for fleeing his country in 1987 with thousands of other children, said the news coming from home is “very disturbing.”
“For a long time, I have never lost hope. This time, it’s very difficult for me not to say that I’m not losing hope, and this is because of the complexity of the situation,” Garang told CBC Radio Thursday.
Garang said the war is creating division in the South Sudanese community, and its local leaders are trying to keep people united.
“It is very difficult to imagine that our own leaders, people that have helped in the struggle (for independence) have turned the country into a killing ground.”
Andrea said despite the violence, she remains hopeful the government and opposition forces will be able to work out a peace agreement.
“We want our people to live in peace.”