Psychological scars & hopelessness for South Sudanese refugees

An elderly South Sudanese woman and a man open up about recent political violence in their country.

This handout picture taken and released by Unicef on 11 June 2016 shows Nyabitu Saleh (L), 7 years old, next to her brother Mubarak (R), crying of fear while landing to Kodok, South Sudan, in a UN plane. Picture: Unicef/AFP.

PAGIRINYA - An elderly South Sudanese woman living at a refugee camp along the Ugandan border has told Eyewitness News of the psychological scars left by the recent political violence in her home country.

Mary Bruno is one of more than a million people who have fled the war torn country following clashes between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar in July this year.

Bruno arrived at the Pagirinya refugee camp from Juba just two months ago.

While the four-day walk from the South Sudanese capital is still a blur, she vividly remembers losing her eldest son while fleeing their home.

"My eldest son was killed and I ran with another person. Here we are always ready to run."

Like Bruno, many other South Sudanese citizens spend their days aimlessly walking around this camp.

Andrew Mali says his wife was abducted and sexually assaulted over four days during the recent violent clashes in the capital Juba.

Mali says he and his family had thought the violence would subside, but they've now lost hope of peace ever returning to their country.

Close to 300 people were killed in those clashes and hundreds more displaced.

The United Nations last week said South Sudan had surpassed the one million refugee mark, with Uganda hosting the lion's share of those displaced.

He says his wife's assault was the final straw for him and a wake-up call that it was time to flee.

The father of five says he always thought he'd return to Juba, but the situation now seems too dire and he's lost all hope.

The former teacher says he's embarrassed that his children are sitting in packed classrooms that are not conducive for learning.

For the Mali, the recent wave of fighting has crushed any hopes they had of a normal life and peace in South Sudan.