Bentiu, South Sudan – Peter’s Story
By Barbara Jackson, Humanitarian Director, CARE International
Peter Bothi is a storekeeper with the CARE South Sudan team in Bentiu. He is in charge of maintaining the inventory records of the stocks from the clinic and office that were once in Bentiu town but which are now currently being occupied by soldiers and where a number of CARE vehicles were stolen and the offices looted in March. Peter works out of a “rub hall” in the UN compound outside of Bentiu town where anywhere between 35,000 and 45,000 people currently live in desperate conditions. Why? Because it is only here that they feel somewhat safe and protected from the continuing violence between the government, the opposition and different factions wearing uniforms of various sorts and carrying many arms.
Peter tells of the day in March when he loaded a CARE vehicle with the office safe, files, medical supplies, and assorted stocks to flee to the UN compound. As he shares his story with me, his face remains emotionless while his words stream from his mouth as he describes being surrounded by armed men and boys in the CARE compound in Bentiu town. Suddenly, a young boy wearing fatigues and waving an AK-47 orders him to be shot. Peter says he wove his way into the group so that he would be surrounded by them as human shields, and that in the confusion as shots rang in the air the group continued on their way without having killed him.