Last week, my colleague Dan and I spent two days in Yida refugee camp, which is located in South Sudan near the Sudan border. An estimated 28,000 civilians from South Kordofan traveled to Yida for safety after being forced to flee their homes because of attacks and indiscriminate bombing by Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.
While most of the refugees were from the Nuba Mountains region of South Kordofan, we also met with several Darfuri refugees who had been forced to flee attacks on Darfur and found refuge in South Kordofan. However, once again, they were forced to flee Bashir’s violence after the recent attacks on the Nuba Mountains.
We met a young woman named Seluah. She told us that she left her home in West Darfur as a result of the ongoing conflict and her overwhelming desire to complete her education, which was impossible to do in Darfur due to insecurity. Seluah wanted to finish school so that she could do something to help her fellow Darfuris. She told us about her constant fear of torture and sexual violence, which is all too often utilized as weapons to repress activists. Seluah and five other girls, aged 16-20, ran away to the Nuba Mountains in February 2011 to escape the ongoing conflict and finish their studies. However, soon after they arrived the Sudanese government began a brutal campaign in South Kordofan, targeting civilians on the basis of their political and ethnic identity.
Seluah told us that she wants to return home once the fighting ends to work with children who became orphans during the genocide. Since she was forced to flee to Yida and suspend her education, Seluah is stuck — forced to wait for the violence to end.