May 5, 2008
Sudan snapshot #1: Playing with grenades in Malakal
The 10-year-old took it back to her home in Malakal, on the banks of the White Nile in South Sudan, and tried to open it by pulling on a rod, fixed into what appeared to be its lid.
The explosion ripped of most of her right hand, burned her face from chin to forehead and peppered her body with shards of shrapnel.
One metal spike hit the head of her four-year-old cousin Emanuel David, missing his left eye by 5mm. Another fragment lodged itself in the neck of her other cousin, Habiba David, aged three, stopping just short of his windpipe. The boys' baby sister Angelina, who was also is the room at the time, was burned all the way up her right arm.
Officials are still not sure whether the interesting box was a grenade or an old-fashioned landmine, set off by some sort of fuse.
What they are certain of is that it was one of the millions of explosive objects that still litter the land around Malakal and other parts of South Sudan, all leftovers from decades of fighting in Africa's largest country...
Two months after the explosion their wounds may have started to heal, but the memories are still raw.
Temene's mother describes how the whole community rushed out of the huts when they heard the explosion and had to hunt for the boys after they ran out of the family compound in a blind panic.
Temene still has to go back to hospital every few weeks to have her bandage changed. She has regained her good humour and greets visitors shyly with an awkward left-handed handshake.
Ten minutes drive across town, yet another young body has been cut and torn by what, in technical jargon, is known as ERW – explosive remnants of war.
Augustino threw a stone at a cow he was trying to catch on open ground outside his family's home. The stone fell short, hitting a hidden mine that sprayed him and three of his friends with shrapnel.
All four survived but all four are permanently scarred on their faces, torsos, arms and legs.
Posted by aheavens at May 5, 2008 11:17 AM