Wau, South Sudan – A year ago, the area surrounding the United Nations base on the outskirts of Wau was just open fields. But when fighting reached the northwestern city, hitherto largely untouched by the conflict that has cleaved through South Sudan since late 2013, thousands of people fled to the UN base, and to the cathedral on the other side of town.
Now, according to the UN, around 39,000 people live in the camp surrounded by razor wire and guard-towers of peacekeepers, and some 13,000 live in the grounds of the cathedral with few policemen posted outside.
Country-wide, nearly two million people are internally displaced, and over 1.8 million have fled the world’s newest state. The violence that erupted in June last year brought in a new chapter to South Sudan’s civil war. Civilian populations have been repeatedly targeted in the conflict, amid peace negotiations and flaunted ceasefires. Many of the people living in the camps in Wau are now just a kilometre or two from their home, but are too scared to return, or to step outside the razor-wire fence.