South Sudan: Desperation turns schools into shelters

Michael Morrah's trip to South Sudan was made possible with support from World Vision. You can donate to the South Sudan crisis appeal here.

South Sudan has been ranked as the second-most dangerous country in the world, behind Syria, in the latest edition of the Global Peace Index.

More than 185,000 people are living inside UN-protected camps to escape the inter-tribal violence as they don't feel safe in their own country.

But protection inside camps isn't guaranteed. In February this year, there was a massacre at a camp in Malakal in the north of the country.

At least 25 people were killed and more than a thousand shelters were burned.

The UN is investigating, but has been criticised for taking too long to respond and contain the fighting.

The violence has meant thousands have now even fled the UN area and are living in town where some schools have become shelters.

Kun Chol and his family are sleeping in a classroom. They've set up a makeshift kitchen, but food is in short supply.

"We are living here at the school -- it's a big challenge," he says. "There are many people in one place."

Rations provided by aid agencies are running low. One woman has been eating leaves.

"We don't eat it because it's good -- we eat it because of the conditions," she says.

They've all ended up here after fleeing an attack on a UN-camp just up the road. It was supposed to be a place of safety, not violence.

But during the February massacre, even aid workers were forced to take cover to avoid being hurt.

"Tents were burning, people were screaming," says World Vision food assistance officer Inos Mugabe.

"People went to go to the UNMISS compound where they were safely accommodated. It was terrifying."

The city of Malakal also bears the scars of fiery battles. It's changed hands between opposition and government fighters numerous times.

A World Vision water tank, which turns filthy water from the Nile into drinking water, is one of the few functioning resources left in the broken city.

Mr Mugabe says it's a difficult environment to operate in.

"But someone has got to do it," he says.

Everyone pitches in to make life in Malakal bearable, even the children. They're making do and just surviving.

They have so little, but are just grateful that at least they have each other. 

Malakal used to be a key hub for trading and was the second-largest city in South Sudan.

It's now largely been destroyed by fighting.


Michael Morrah's trip to South Sudan was made possible with support from World Vision.

If you would like to contribute to life-saving aid for the people of South Sudan, you can donate to World Vision's crisis appeal today.