Fleeing Abyei, Pregant Woman Finds Refuge In South Sudan

As South Sudan celebrates its birth as a nation, the new country continues to receive a flow of families displaced by conflict in the contested border area of Abyei. Among the new arrivals is Achok Ajou Cyer, who has taken refuge in the town of Mayen Abun, where she is now receiving WFP assistance.

by Ahnna Gudmunds

JUBA -- Seven months pregnant, 23-year-old Achok Ajou Cyer was resting before dinner, waiting for the okra to boil on the charcoal stove.  Suddenly, the sound of an explosion boomed in her village, just outside of Abyei town, and she knew exactly what was going on.

"There is nothing like the sound of a gun," says Achok.  "You get stiff and cold inside."

When she heard the sound of gunfire and shelling, she knew that the only thing she could do was run.  Run as fast as a seven-month pregnant woman is able run.

Her husband ran behind her, carrying their one year-old son Mou.  For several days the family hiked in the bush, heading south towards Warrap State in South Sudan. Once they felt the situation was safer, they went out on the road and joined thousands of others escaping the conflict.  "We slept under trees and ate what we could find," Achok says.

Assistance waiting

women for women advertisement, click to giver her a way outIt took them a week to reach Mayen Abun, where humanitarian assistance was waiting.  Achok was registered as an IDP (Internally Displaced Person) together with her family so they were able to receive food, plastic sheets for shelter and other basic necessities.  "Back home I was a farmer: I had a garden with dura, maize and okra. Without my garden I have nothing.  Now, the WFP food is the only food I have."

Achok, who will give birth to her second baby in a couple months, also received a "delivery kit" and has been instructed on how to use it.

Her son Mou, who started growing weaker during the seven days on the road fleeing south, has been checked for malaria at a mobile clinic.  He will soon also receive a ration of Plumpy'Doz, a peanut paste which helps to prevent malnutrition in children under two.