Tag Archives: separatist movements

Forgotten among the forgotten: Foreign refugees in South Sudan’s civil strife

At this camp in Juba, more than 10,000 people are sheltering, including hundreds of Eritreans who are afraid to go back to their country. Photo by Jason Patinkin

Juba, South Sudan — Two years ago when Peter moved here from nearby Eritrea, things looked pretty good: South Sudan was a new country getting international help. The city of Bor, where Peter opened a general store, was along a major corridor of emerging oil wealth and prosperity.

South Sudan was in fact a refuge, politically and religiously freer and less repressive than Eritrea. Peter, who will not give his real name for fear of reprisal, could escape what has become Eritrea’s notorious forced conscription policy, where the government is grabbing men up to the age of 50 for indefinite Army service. Plus, getting across the South Sudan border was not too difficult.

But now he finds himself caught in South Sudan’s brutal civil strife. A slight man with a short, shaggy Afro, he is living in a refugee camp of 10,000 people in the capitol of Juba. And at this point he just wants to leave this place and find some safer haven.  Read more…


An Informal Currency for Slum-Dwellers, or a Nefarious Separatist Plot?

Bangla-Pesa notes, an alternate currency that helps stabilize slum-dwellers’ finances. Photo by Jason Patinkin

Emma Onyango is a 40-year-old widow who supports eight children in a slum called Bangladesh near the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa. Only one child, a 14-year-old daughter, is hers. The rest are orphans. Onyango has lived there since she moved from her family’s inland village years ago in hopes of finding better work. But like many rural-urban migrants, she barely scrapes by, selling tomatoes and drinking water to earn around 500 shillings ($5.88) a day. It’s not enough to feed everyone, so she relies on donations to keep bellies full. Still, there are nights when there simply isn’t enough to eat.

With so much to worry about and her ancestral home far away, Emma isn’t the type of person one expects to be involved in a plot to secede the coast from the rest of Kenya. But that’s what she was accused of last month after she started trading some colorful pieces of paper in exchange for sugar, flour and potatoes.  Read more…