Staff testimony from Leer, South Sudan

My name is Gatkuoth. I am 31 years old. I am a Community Health Worker for MSF. I am from Payak in Leer County, South Sudan. I was in Bentiu in 2014 when war erupted. I went back to Payak, where we had a tea shop. Although armed men were shooting, we did not need to run from their vehicles in Payak for a long time. There was a lot of water and mud on the roads, so vehicles did not come that way. We would just lie down when there was gunfire. But when the small streams dried up [and the roads opened], armed men came and the people living in Payak had to flee west and south. 
In 2015, I started working for MSF as a casual worker on a measles vaccination campaign. That same year, my brother James, who was working in the MSF Leer hospital in the operating theatre, was killed at home.
There came a time when the armed men attacked civilians. Cattle and goods were raided by armed men. They looted and burned down houses. They did not only loot. Even though you are not holding a gun, they can kill you. You can be male or female and they can beat you. In one instance, about 50 people were captured and all of them were killed. 
When the looting became common, we dug a hole to hide bags of sorghum. But when the fighting worsened, we came at night and divided the sorghum between me and my wife, and moved. 
There were seven of us moving together. We met armed men on the road to Mayendit, who pointed their guns at us. They released four of us, captured one, and two ran away. They told us to go another route. We then went to Nyangpoa island. We were there for just one day when I was captured a second time. They shot at me three times but did not hit me. We said we had nothing to give them, but they kept me for several hours. I asked them, "Are you going to release me or kill me?" In the end, they released me. 
I was thinking a lot. I was captured yesterday, captured today. That is enough for God. We stayed for seven days and returned to Payak.
In October 2016 we went back to Mayendit again for three months to escape the fighting, and then to Dhorkheen and Bahr islands. My oldest and youngest children are with us. The other kids are with my mother in Mayendit. We have a big family. My mother and brothers were with us in Payak. We had four tukuls [(huts)] plus one for cattle. I went back to Payak last week just to look. Our home was burned, but the shelter I built with plastic sheeting is still there. I will go back to Payak when there is security. If there is peace of course we can go back.
South Sudan