Mass killings, rape, torture, abductions and forced cannibalism have led to an increase in mental illness in South Sudan, with patients routinely housed in prisons due to an “almost total” absence of mental health care,. There are only two practicing psychiatrists for South Sudan’s 11 million people, Amnesty International said in a report released on July 5, 2016 ahead of the country’s fifth anniversary of independence on July 9.
“My mind is not good,” the report quoted one man, Phillip, as saying as he described being forced to eat the flesh of dead men rounded up and shot in a security forces building in the capital, Juba, when conflict broke out in December 2013. “They found me, tied my arms behind my back and forced me at gunpoint to drink blood and eat flesh … At night when I sleep, those who were killed come back in my nightmares.”
More than 10,000 people have been killed and two million displaced since fighting erupted between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.
Clashes have continued even though warring factions signed a peace deal in August 2015, with 200,000 people still sheltering in United Nations military bases across the country.
Lual, another man quoted in the report, said he felt suicidal after security officers forced him to disembowel corpses in detention in Juba in 2014.”Whenever they would kill people, we would be taken to dissect the stomachs of those who were killed, so they could be thrown into the river and wouldn’t float,” he was quoted as saying.
Excerpts from Cannibalism, rape and death: trauma as South Sudan turns five, Reuters, July 5, 2016