Calgary South Sudanese community remembers massacre, calls for greater response

a-memorial-for-lives-lost-in-the-south-sudan-civil-warCalgary South Sudanese community remembers massacre, calls for greater response
Locals mark two years since the start of a civil war that has killed thousands

Human Rights Watch: World Report 2015, South Sudan
2015 UNHCR country operations profile, South Sudan
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As Syrian refugees continue to arrive and settle in Canadian cities, another group dealing with displaced and suffering people hopes Canada has room for a wider response.

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Some in the Calgary South Sudanese community gathered this weekend to commemorate the second anniversary of a massacre they say took the lives of thousands and displaced many more

Calgary’s South Sudanese community marks an anniversary
Calgary’s South Sudanese community marks an anniversary and calls for action. (CBC)

Candles were lit in honour of the dead from a brutal conflict.

Khor Top is a leader in Calgary’s South Sudanese community. He says the support felt in the Saturday memorial is sometimes limited to those within his community.

Khor Top
Khor Top is a leader in Calgary’s South Sudanese community. (CBC)

“In Calgary, when you talk to people, they don’t even know the situation in South Sudan,” Top said.

“They don’t even know that there are refugees that are displaced everywhere in South Sudan.”

Human Rights Watch says more than 1.4 million civilians have fled their homes, at least 100,000 of those displaced are seeking shelter in United Nations compounds.

Mary Bakual, who lost her 25-year-old brother in the fighting, says even those compounds have security issues.

Mary Bakual
Mary Bakual lost her brother in the South Sudan civil war which began two years ago. (CBC)

“They’re not safe in terms of fighting, they’re not safe in terms of food,” Bakual said.

“The basic needs of human beings, they’re not safe … so anything can happen.”

Over the past two years thousands of South Sudanese people have been slaughtered, kidnapped, raped and tortured, Top said.

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“The killings actually are still going on as we speak now … the violence is just everywhere in South Sudan,” he said.

With much attention paid to welcoming refugees from Syria, Top says he thinks it’s important to have a wider focus on helping.

A memorial for lives lost in the South Sudan civil war
Human Rights Watch says more than 1.4 million civilians have fled their homes, at least 100,000 of those displaced seek shelter in United Nations compounds. (CBC)

“The people of South Sudan are suffering the same situation as the Syrians … It’s only that no one’s paying attention to (the South Sudan) situation.”

As a refugee herself 14 years ago, Bakual welcomes Syrian refugees.

“The government of Canada is taking the initiative to bring them (here) … (to) live a happy life, I’m so happy,” she said.

“And the same thing, that’s what I want for my people too.”

Candles lit in honour of South Sudanese who died in civil war
Candles lit in honour of South Sudanese who died in the civil war. (CBC)

Many South Sudanese are displaced within the country and therefore do not have refugee status.

Still, many in the Calgary South Sudanese community are hoping a larger response from Canada is possible.

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