This op-ed, co-authored by board member John Prendergast, originally appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Alice (not her real name) was living in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, when war erupted in December 2013. As soldiers went from house to house shooting anyone they found, she witnessed the killing of seven of her relatives and her pastor. Her pastor had been gathering people together to try to protect them. But when the soldiers found him, they shot him and poured beer on him.
Eventually she made it to the relative safety of a displaced camp. Alice is just one of more than 2 million South Sudanese forced from their homes since the war started. She recently went back to her old neighborhood and found that a soldier’s family had moved into her house. Soldiers warned her not to move beyond the camp or she could be raped. One of the women who now lives with Alice in the camp contends, “Even if there is peace, we will all carry guns, even women.”