Amid the chaos of fleeing Abyei as violence erupted late last month, family members often got separated from each other. In the town of Turalei, at least a two-days’ walk south, the Enough Project’s Tim Freccia met Kuol Monyjei, who was facing the frightening uncertainty of not being able to reach his wife, mother, and two-year-old son.
Kuol Monyjei had been working as a medical assistant for the aid organization GOAL in Agok. When the Sudan Armed Forces invaded Abyei, Monyjei sent his family to Turalei, uncertain of how far south the northern army would advance. As many of Agok’s residents moved south, newly displaced people from Abyei were arriving and in need of treatment for dehydration, diarrhea, colds, and other illnesses that could be easily treated with medicine from GOAL's pharmacy. So Monyjei stayed in Agok to treat new patients, even as GOAL’s international staff was evacuated.
Monyjei said he was not concerned for his own safety, explaining that as a 13-year-old he fought as a soldier in White Nile state during the civil war. He returned to Abyei after the 2008 invasion of Abyei town, determined to start a new life in his homeland.
But after several days without contact with his family he became anxious and decided to travel to Turalei to find them. When he reached the town he started crying. He said it was painful for him to see the way his neighbors and relatives were living, without shelter in the rainy season.
With the situation in Abyei locked in a fragile stalemate and the future there after the independence of South Sudan uncertain, Monyjei said he wants to move his family to Wau, a city further south. He is not sure whether he’ll be able to afford a house right away, but at least there they will feel safe.