Returnee Recounts Experience in Sudan War, Grateful to the Catholic Church for Support

Credit: John Amuom, Radio Voice of Love, Catholic Diocese of Malakal

When Liebo Bona, a native of Malakal in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State arrived in Sudan in 2016 and landed a teaching job at a private school in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, he was convinced that his problems were behind him.

Bona had brought his family to safety in Khartoum when clashes between forces allied to Sudan’s president Salva Kiir and those of first vice-president Riek Machar left several people in his village dead.

He was forced to pack his bags again and hit the road back home to Malakal on April 19, two weeks after war broke out in Khartoum between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

In a Monday, July 31 interview with ACI Africa, Bona recounted his arduous journey from Khartoum, the distressing stopovers at military checkpoints where those fleeing were forced to give up everything they had, and finally finding solace at the Catholic Diocese of Malakal where his family was given food. 

He described the assistance given to them by the Catholic as a good gesture to returnees, saying, “The first real meal we had was served by the Catholic Church here in Malakal.”


Bona recounted the first days of the war in Khartoum, describing the situation as “very bad”. “Gunshots killed many civilians. Memories from the war back in South Sudan came back to me. I knew I had to take my family and flee once again.”

 “There were many of us coming to Malakal from Khartoum,” Bona recounts, and adds, “We passed through Medani road in Aljazeera State in Sudan where people we suspected to be the RSF had erected checkpoints. They harassed us, asking whether we were hiding military personnel in our cars, and whether we had seen any armed men on our way.”

The police who were also manning the roads ransacked cars of those who were fleeing and tore their bags apart, looking for what to loot.  

“They took anything valuable including electronics and money. They claimed that we had stolen those things from Khartoum,” he said. 

Those returning first arrived at Renk, a town in Upper Nile State, where charity organizations facilitated their travel to Malakal.

More in Africa

Highlighting some of the challenges faced by returnees stopping over in Renk, Bona said, “There are many people suffering in Renk because they wait for two weeks or more to get a ticket to travel to Malakal.”

In Malakal, charity entities, including the Catholic Church are overwhelmed by the large number of returnees who are in desperate need of food and shelter. In a previous interview with ACI Africa, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Malakal described the situation of returnees from war-torn Sudan as “very bad” and appealed to the international community to support the diocese that is reaching out to those affected by the violence.  

“Thousands of returnees now in Upper Nile State are living in very deplorable conditions without food and shelter,” Bishop Stephen Nyodho Ador Majwok said.

He appealed for assistance for those fleeing the violence, saying, “We are asking our partners and donors to continue helping our Diocese to extend help to these vulnerable people.” 

Kerbino Kuel Deng is a South Sudanese journalist who is passionate about Church communication. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.