Felix F. Katie
Landili, a strategically situated town near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in the south-western part of the country, has been facing security problems ever since the end of South Sudan’s most recent crisis in 2016. As a result, schools, health care centres and other essential services are not functioning well, if at all.
“Education is almost non-existent here,” said Esther Ojuwa, a mother of three who can only afford to send one of her children to school on her salary earned from selling maize at the local market.
Despite having six primary schools, there are not enough resources to ensure that they are properly equipped or staffed. Administrators have already had to shut down one of the schools because of this.
“There are no qualified teachers, so we have to rely on volunteers,” said James Dee Elias, the town’s director of education.
Ms. Ojuwa and Mr. Elias spoke to representatives of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan last week, as it was carrying out an integrated air patrol to the area. The precarious state of education was but one of the worrying findings of the team assessing the situation in Landili.
Civilian witnesses expressed their concerns about the presence of marauding militant groups in the area, and the perception that these activities have become increasingly common. As recently as in August, a skirmish between armed forces just one kilometer west of Landili claimed one life and injured two civilians, including a two-year-old boy.
The ongoing volatility has not only disrupted the provision of many basic services, but has also rendered key travel routes connecting Landili to the rest of the country too unsafe to travel, thus stifling the flow of essential goods to the communities.
As a result, many residents have been forced to flee their homes in search of safety and better opportunities. Many have left for the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, others have gone to the closest significant town, Maridi, with women and children facing the greatest impact of their forced displacement.
The patrol to the area, spearheaded by the peacekeeping mission’s Civil Affairs Division staff based in Yambio, was the second to be conducted in Landili since the outbreak of inter-communal fighting in 2016.