War is normal here, even when peace appears to be in sight


War is normal here, even when peace appears to be in sight

In the ‘fourth-worst nation state’ in which to live, violence and death are the order of every day

Night news editor

An abandoned tank lies alongside a dirt road at the entrance to Leer, a small town in southern Unity state, South Sudan. It stands as an almost unofficial monument to a civil war that has gripped the world’s newest nation for the past decade.

It is one of several abandoned military vehicles we come across on our trip to the country, as guests of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF or Medecins Sans Frontieres), in March. The first was sitting on top of an island in a watering hole between Bentiu and Rubkona. Cattle grazed on the banks around it, as people collected water in buckets. Some walked over the bridge with baskets on their heads and in their hands. Others, young men, had weapons slung over their shoulders.

War — and all its instruments — is normal here. Violence is common, as is the death that accompanies it...

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