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Camille Lepage

Vanishing Youth

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There inside the hospital, over 200 men, strong, big and beautiful men lye on the floor, and for the lucky ones, on hospital beds. Most are covered by bandages, IV in their veins, and blank stares. They look like warriors or Greek God with their bandages and bed sheets on them: powerful, untouchable, unbreakable, although down, temporarily. These men are from the Lou Nuer tribe, the second biggest tribe in South Sudan, they were brought to the hospital not so long ago. After walking for two weeks to raid the cattle of their rival tribe, the Murle, fighting takes place over a few days. There are woundeds and deads on both side, but only the Nuer, who are said to be supported by the National Army, the SPLA, manage to be evacuated with the help of the UN, after days in the bush with open wounds and no medications. The wounded from the other tribe aren't evacuated, and have never been found, but are estimated to be over 400, not to mention the deads. Beside the cattle raids, the Lou Nuer are also militias yet [it is] said [they are] supported by the government of South Sudan, whilst the Murle are in the opposition and supported by the Sudanese government to destabilize the region of Jonglei, which appears to be a region bordering Ethiopia. If the region ever becomes peaceful, it means that South Sudan would be able to open pipelines to reach Ethiopia instead of having to pass through Sudan. Therefore Khartoum wouldn't have a hand on South Sudan economy any longer and its economy would be on the brink of bankruptcy. I wanted to follow the story and went to the very tiny village to cover their coming back from war, I could perceive some kind of happiness to be back alive, but above all the trauma of war, and the need to forget with alcohol what they went through, and the loss of their brothers. Despite everything these guys went through, all the atrocities that they must have carried out, in both this hospital and in the bush, inside their eyes, I could see kindness and innocence. None of them had the choice to go and fight, they're born, raised and build to fight. Fight and kill are some one of the few things they know and wait for in life, they become a man when they've been at war. And then they're broken, probably for the rest of their lives This series is my personal account of the consequences of violence on the youth in a conflict that has very little to do with the fighters, and victims. A conflict were oil is a key, and human beings are pawns.