I have been getting some worried phone calls and e-mails during the last couple of days so I thought I would write about my situation and the situation in South Sudan.
There has been some turbulence between Sudan and South Sudan during the last couple of weeks, but none of the countries have declared war against the other. However, no war does not mean there is peace. When the South became independent in July 2011 there was an agreement between them and the North that they would share the oil revenue equally. The agreement period ended in 2011 and the two countries have not reached a new agreement. The South has the main part of the oil resources but the pipe lines for transporting and exporting the oil go through the North. That is part of the reason for the conflict.
I am going to live in Juba which is quite far away from the boarder where the conflict is. I am not sure that this geographical knowledge calms down anyone of you back home. It did not calm me down when my new African friends made that statement to me on my first day in Addis. But after spending two weeks on Fredskorpset’s preparatory course with people from Africa I have learned a few things that I would like to share with you.
In the course we had a session on security. That was especially helpful for me since I will probably feel unsafe sometimes. An advice I have followed and will continue to follow is to inform myself about the situation. I have been following the news on the conflict for months now and the lasts weeks have been stressful. But one have to remember that sometimes the image we get from media can be exaggerated or biased. That is why I also have talked to South Sudanese people and other people who are working in Juba. They all say the same thing; that I shouldn’t worry and that Juba is safe.
You should also know that we follow the recommendations of the Foreign Ministry. Right now they are advising not to travel to South Sudan UNLESS you’re going to Juba, which basically means that Juba is safe. I will also report to the Norwegian Embassy when I get to Juba so that they know that I am there and can contact me if something should happen.
I will also follow the official safety recommendations, advice from my organization and recommendations from local people. That includes staying at home after dark and definitely not go outside between 1 and 5 o’clock in the morning.
To live in a country with an ongoing conflict is definitely going to be a challenge. So far I feel safe and confident but I promise to take care and be cautious.