ARUA. Akui Manyok, 14, is a South Sudanese displaced by war from Bor, the main town in Jonglei state.

His parents, both Dinka were killed during the gory war of December 2013 that left Bor littered with corpses. The rebels attacked their village in the evening when he was only nine years old and in primary four. He was with his mother working at the farm near home while his father, a government soldier rested in front of the house.

“The rebels came and shot my father. My mother started running towards his body while screaming. They shot her instantly,” he recalls.

As the gunshots rained, Manyok ran into the bush in the process separating with his 16-year-old brother who ran in a different direction. He stumbled upon a group of escapees with whom he spent one year and six months wondering in the jungles. They slept on bare ground, endured heavy rains, suffered diarrhea, malaria and fever only surviving on herbs and tree leaves.

In 2015, Manyok decided to walk the 204km distance to Juba where he found sleeping even harder as sporadic gunshots interrupted people during the night.

He resorted to street begging in order to buy something to eat. Last month, Manyok who bears immense dreams of one day becoming a medical doctor decided that he needed to come to Uganda to at least enroll in school once again.

He begged money from people and boarded a bus that brought him to Elegu border post in Amuru district in northern Uganda. There UNHCR officials picked him up and transported him to Rhino Camp settlement in Arua district.

On arrival, Manyok was given food ration, cooking utensils, and bedding items and taken to Tika I cluster zone D to live on his own.

“I felt relieved and secure but I arrived when schools had closed for holidays,” he said through an interpreter.

Though not worried of insecurity in the camp, Manyok still experiences nightmares of the grisly event that took out the lives of his parents while he watched. But he stressed that what pains him most is the separation from the brother and being unable to know his whereabouts. He is only one of the thousands of children orphaned and displaced by the egregious war that brought a pile of misery upon the South Sudanese people.

Manyok said he wants the war to end so that this generation of innocents being looked after by widows and humanitarian agencies can grow up into good citizens. He incidentally bears no thoughts of avenging for his parents’ death.

His cries were shared by 10 other orphans, all of them Nueri children who were brought to Uganda in February this year by 35-year-old Nyahon Dak, a single mother of four.

Nyahon DakNyahon Dak in dotted clothes is surrounded by some of the orphaned children under her care in Rhino Camp refugee settlement. PHOTO BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU

Mrs Dak’s husband died in 2012 before the mayhem and was working as a house maid in order to fend for her four children when the manmade hell dawned on South Sudan. She said she found some of the children in Malakal, South Sudan’s second biggest city before the war and she met others in Juba on her way to Uganda.

“When these children survive and grow up, they will help me in future,” she says rather hopefully.

Mrs Dak made the decision to come to Uganda after the lack of security made farming impossible.

“In South Sudan you are at risk of being killed by both government troops and rebel forces. When you go to the farm, the government forces assume you are taking information about them to rebels while the rebels think you are going to spy for the government. Any armed person who finds you in a garden weather rebel or government soldier shoots you,” she narrated of the dire security situation.

Her new home is Tika zone IV cluster in Rhino Camp settlement where Nueri, Dinka, Lutuku and people of other tribes of South Sudan live in peace with one another.

Mr James Doleak and Mr Joseph Bung, both Dinka men who introduced Mrs Dak said they are a single family in the refugee camp.

“The war back home is an affair of egotistical politicians. We are not party to it, all we want is peace,” Mr Bung, the vice chairman of the zone,s refugee welfare committee commented.

Joyce Atto20-year-old Joyce Atto from Torit was informed at the end of last month that her husband who was fighting for the government had been killed in combat. PHOTO BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU

According to Mr Solomon Osakan, the refugee desk officer at the Arua office of the prime minister, Rhino camp settlement straddling the three sub counties of Rigbo, Uriama and Omugo has over 120,000 refugees settled in different clusters.

The camp continues to bulge in size as more people flee the deteriorating economic and living conditions in South Sudan where civil unrest pitting various guerilla factions loyal to the exiled former vice president Dr Riek Marchar against the government of President Salva Kiir continues to rage.

clay smart phoneA child having fun with a clay 'smart phone' at Rhino camp refugee settlement. The children say they want peace to return to their country. PHOTO BY RICHARD DRASIMAKU

Some of the insecurity is caused by armed Dinka militias who go around rustling cattle according to Mr James Makuer, 20, who was forced to leave Rumbek to come and live as a refugee in Uganda.

Mr Makuer himself a Dinka had his community attacked and raided by another faction of Dinka militias who looted the village of food and animals.

On March 25, 2018, he asked permission from his ageing mother to flee the insecurity to Uganda which was granted. He went to a Sudanese police station and the police transported him to capital Juba from where he borrowed 1000 South Sudanese pounds to travel to Uganda.