Wesleyan alumna Orelia Jonathan ’15 recently sent the following note to the African Student Association:
As some of you may or may not know, Buagji, the village in Western Equitoria, Sudan, where my father was born and where I based much of the research for my thesis, was burnt to the ground on Friday night by the SPLA armed forced (Southern Sudanese Government). This atrocity occurred after the small village resisted a cattle raid by another tribe and called the government for protection. Instead of protecting the village, the government, who is run by members of the same tribe that attempted the cattle raid, came and opened fire on civilians – my people and family members – as well as burned and looted most of the houses in the village, including the school that Geneva and I have spent the past couple of years raising money to support.
Some of you might also realize that this is the same village where [her sister] Geneva [Jonathan ’15] and I laid down foundations to build a Women’s Maternity Health Clinic and general health center this past summer with a grant we received from Wesleyan University.
Right now there are approximately 1000 families hiding in the mountains and jungle (including my own family and baby cousins) and there are hundreds of children who are terribly hungry because the soldiers took all of the food and the village people were unable to take food because they had to flee.
Orelia has offered this update:
The same region of Western Equatoria, near Jambo, was attacked again on October 5 by armed government helicopters. Still no international news has taken up the story of these civilians, who are NOT part of the military opposition. A very few have taken up (small) arms to defend their land. The only reports come from the opposition army, where they are interpreted as “allegations” only. We cannot believe these attacks have not been reported internationally.
We received word that families (including my own) are still hiding 10-15 miles from the road, with some returning to their villages by dark of night to get food. Those areas that are a little further from the road have not yet been attacked, although people do not feel able to return to them safely. The UN has promised to follow-through with the so-called peace agreement insofar as possible, and has supported the establishment of an African Union war crimes court in South Sudan. These, however, are long-term solutions and do nothing to protect our people right now.
Please continue to help spread the word about these atrocities, for they have gone on for far too long- and hundreds of innocent people are going hungry as a result or worse, being killed. To read a news article about the most recent attack, click here.
Orelia has set up a go-fund-me page here. You can find updates and lend a hand.