Written yesterday evening:
Today I visited the Yusuf Batil refugee camp in Upper Nile state, South Sudan. From Juba, I took a 90 minute UN plane flight to Malakal, followed by a helicopter ride from Malakal to the refugee camp.
The Yusuf Batil camp has nearly 37,000 refugees – out of a total of around 110,000 in the Upper Nile state. They’re fleeing fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile – the states of Sudan which lie on the South Sudanese border.
During the visit I spoke with women who face serious challenges to their personal security, and to Sheikhs about food distribution and community relations. Given the challenges they face, the human spirit of the refugees and the dedication of the workers was just awe-inspiring.
Yesterday I visited the Sipri Alternative Education Centre in Juba, South Sudan to meet with South Sudanese regional and deputy education ministers (both female – hooray!) and students.
I spoke with young women and girls about the challenges of being in education. Many of the girls say that society views them as ‘property’ and ‘not worth educating’ – so it’s very encouraging to see them rising above these barriers and learning skills such as masonry.
Following this, I was so happy to launch a series of textbooks which will be provided to schools in South Sudan. The textbooks – which looked fantastic – are funded by UK Aid. 9.3 million textbooks were provided in total – which means South Sudan will have sufficient textbooks for next year for the first time ever!
I then had dinner with South Sudanese Government Advisors, campaigners and activists. I met a man who was involved in a leading local peace-building organisation. The whole day – and trip so far – has been simply inspirational.
You can view all my photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lynnefeatherstone/