BY Fredrick Ngugi, 4:00pm February 27, 2017,

S. Sudanese Mother Reunites with Children After 3 Years

Nyagonga Machul, a South Sudanese mother of four reunites with her lost children. Photo credit: PBS

Nyagonga Machul, a South Sudanese Mother, is happy to have finally reunited with her four children after three years of separation due to the ongoing civil war in the country.

In December 2013, Machul traveled to Juba, South Sudan’s capital, when President Salva Kiir fell out with his vice president, Riek Machar, triggering a deadly civil war between government forces and rebels led by Machar.

The unexpected fighting separated Machul from her four children who she left in the custody of her mother back in the village.

Nyagonga Machul

Nyagonga Machul, 38, embraces her children (L-R) Nyameer Mario, 6, Nyawan Mario, 4, Ruai Mario, 10, and Machiey Mario, 8, after being reunited with them at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Protection of Civilian site (CoP) in Juba, South Sudan, February 13, 2017. Photo credit: REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

In an interview, 14-year-old Nahul, Machul’s eldest son and the protector of the family, narrated how a gunman attacked their village in the middle of the night, forcing him and his three siblings to hide near River Nile.

In the morning, after they could not find their grandmother, the four, including the then-1-year-old Nyawan, decided to flee the village, walking through swamps in chest-deep waters of the Nile, which is home to Africa’s largest crocodiles and snakes.

Nahul says they had to borrow food from neighbors with little to spare, and after four days of trekking, they finally settled at a refugee camp in Bentu, hundreds of miles from their village, with the help of former neighbor Nyabika Temdor.

“I had to pay someone to carry the little ones, as they couldn’t walk,” Temdor recalled.

After three years of desperate search, Machul heard that a local humanitarian organization, Community in Need of Aid, had found her four children in Bentu in December last year.

Nyagonga Machul

Nyagonga Machul, 38, touches the feet of her younger daughter, Nyawan Mario, 4, in their home at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan. Photo credit: ENCA

With the help of United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Machul’s children were airlifted to Juba to reunite with their mother earlier last week.

“God has answered my prayers. I’m so happy,” Machul said after reuniting with her lost children.

No End in Sight

Since 2013, the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan, has been engulfed in a deadly civil war, which has left thousands of people dead and millions displaced.

The war started when President Kiir, a member of the Dinka tribe, fired Machar, an ethnic Nuer, over claims of plotting a coup.

The conflict evolved into a full-blown tribal war, with the two leaders maintaining their hardline stances, pitting the country’s two major tribes against each other.

Numerous interventions by the international community have not helped much as the warring sides have continued to blatantly violate agreements to end the war.

On top of the devastating war, South Sudan is currently staring at a major drought crisis, with recent reports indicating that people have resorted to eating weeds and water lilies to survive.

South Sudan is one of the oil-rich countries in Africa, but years of war have left the majority of the population impoverished and begging for aid.

Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: June 19, 2018

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