Back in Juba, we had planned to visit the main hospital, but we hear that the doctors have gone on strike, because they haven’t received their salaries for the last two-three months.
Government salaries haven’t been paid because the South Sudanese government has shut down its oil pipeline – which provides 98 per cent of its revenue.
Oil has to be exported through pipelines via its northern neighbour Sudan, and both governments still haven’t resolved the issue of transit fees that the South must pay Khartoum.
When you ask people how they feel about the situation, surprisingly there isn’t any strong animosity. As we drive past the hospital, there are no demonstrations outside, people tell us: ‘we must endure this difficulty, until things are resolved’. Already food prices in the market are high, so one wonders for how long people will be able to manage.
The word ‘endure’ is used a lot when I speak to people about their daily challenges of water, food, schooling and medical care.
Right in the heart of Juba, by the parade ground, we stare up at the South Sudan national flag – black, red, green, a blue triangle with its yellow star in the centre, hangs twisted and limp.
We are desperate for the breeze to catch the flag and ceremoniously unfurl it for us to take a photo. Necks cricked, but not wanting to take our eyes off the flag in case we miss our photo opportunity, we continue staring.
Behind us a small crowd form and they follow our eye-line up the flag-pole. There is chatter from the people that have gathered. I’m not sure what they are saying, but it sounds as if they too are willing the breeze to unfurl their flag.
A breeze catches the flag and for few brief seconds it straightens out and flutters proudly, to a round of applause from the onlookers.
Click, click, we capture our photo opportunity.