Families torn apart by war are reunited – After 8 years of separation

[Original by Ko IMANAKA, Sudan Project (February 3, 2020); Translated by Y. Miki/S. Altman]

There has been a significant change in Sudan since 30-years of dictatorship has finally ended in April 2019. The negotiations of a comprehensive peace agreement have been continuing by a new government leader, who considers the dispute settlement to be their top priority, and South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, as an arbitrator.

South Kordofan, which is JVC’s base of operations is also undergoing to great changes. People were divided into two areas, a government area and anti-government area, since the conflict in 2011. After that, traveling across the border had been strictly controlled, especially in the anti-government area. The restrictions on the movement was under a strict government control which only allowed entrance for sick people, women and children.

The families who were torn apart by geographical separation couldn’t see each other for over 8 years. In the meantime, the process of peace negotiation and the restrictions on movement were gradually relaxed. Last November, a new market opened in the village which is the boundary between two districts. People from both regions started coming there for not only business but also to meet their families from the other side again. In the meantime, a lot of people also come across the market to see their families and relatives in the government-controlled area.

The emotional meeting made me truly realize again how serious the situation was. It must have been an extremely difficult time for them to wait for the next opportunity when they could be reunited with their family again especially since they were without guarantee during the ongoing conflict.

JVC staff’s family reunion. Relatives came one after another and tears soon turned to smiles. Photo by courtesy of Mr. J. Hori,(GARDEN Journalism)

When I asked them how they felt about seeing their family for the first time in 8 years, they emphasized the period as “8 and a half years!”. Their response has impacted me and made me realize how they were eagerly and patiently awaiting this moment.

We’ll continue to provide ongoing support to Sudan until the conflict will officially come to the end through the formal comprehensive peace agreement.

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