My best friend died on Sunday in my hometown village of Mayom in the state of Jonglei, South Sudan.
Over a decade since I fled my village becoming one of the “Lost Boys,” the killing I fled from sadly has returned.
The attack on my village claimed the lives of 78 people, including elders and children. Another 80 were injured. Some 50,000 cattle were also stolen. Speaking to friends and relatives I heard of children 5, 6and 7 years old who hid in streams all night. Many children are still missing. My father and sister are still in the village and I want to protect them any way I can.
Violence in South Sudan between local tribes, militia and the South Sudanese army continues to wreak havoc on the lives of civilians. While attention has shifted away from South Sudan since it gained independence in July 2011, more than 1,500 people have been killed in the last two years.
Much is still unknown about Sunday’s attacks. The militia of David Yau Yau has been fighting the South Sudanese government, organizing youth of the Murle tribe and killing civilians. It’s possible that Sudanese President Bashir might also be behind them. He has armed many of the militias but nobody knows yet who is behind these attacks.
But what we do know is that the people in my village and in similar villages across South Sudan are not being protected. The number one worry for the people is insecurity, the threat of being killed. The South Sudanese government claims that they do not have the equipment to help stop the violence and that it is too tough to get to the villages because of flooding. But more can and should be done.
The United States should pressure the government to do more to protect those under attack. Activists should tell South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to do more. Two days after the attacks on my village, he met with President Bashir in the capital of Juba. But they were discussing other matters than his role in arming the militias attacking villages like Mayom.
It is important for people to learn about what has happened and what is still happening so they can speak out against it. I talk frequently to many groups now, sharing my past, telling my story of walking over 1,000 miles over 6 months to reach safety at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. But now I’m also forced to tell them the story of the present. My trips back to my village in 2010 and in March of this year are a painful reminder that my people are still not safe.
Much of what I’ve been working for in Mayom is now at risk. Over the years, I’ve worked to build schools for the children of Mayom village. The children of South Sudan did not have a chance for education because of war. Now it’s possible through the South Sudan Children’s Foundation and the Mayom Primary School Project. But with my hometownunder attack and with nobody protecting the children, this dream of education may lead to an entire generation of lost children.
I do not want the kids of today to be talking to groups like I am a few years from now. It is time for the South Sudanese government, the international community, and the country I’m living in now – the United States – to act to stop the killing. For the sake of my father, my family and my friends, we must act to stop the killing.
Guest blogger and “Lost Boy” Deng Juac was born in the village of Mayom, one of the thousands of villages that created Sudanese “Lost Boys” who came to the United States after being forced to flee the Sudanese civil war in the early 2000s. He now lives in Northern Virgina.