Global Lens Reflections on life, the universe, and everything

Innocence threatened

A small child sits on the ground in the Yusuf Batil refugee camp in South Sudan's Upper Nile State. More than 110,000 refugees were living in four camps in Maban County in October 2012, but officials expected more would arrive once the rainy season ended and people could cross rivers that block the routes from Sudan's Blue Nile area, where Sudanese military has been bombing civilian populations as part of its response to a local insurgency. Conditions in the camps are often grim, with outbreaks of diseases such as Hepatitis E.

It’s the Feast Day of the Holy Innocents, when the church remembers the biblical narrative of infanticide by Herod the Great, who’d been appointed “King of the Jews” by Rome. Herod ordered the execution of all young male children in the village of Bethlehem in order to fend off losing his power to the newborn Jesus, whose birth had been revealed to him by the Magi. It didn’t work, as Mary and Joseph smuggle Jesus off to Egypt as refugees. But an unknown number of boys were killed by Herod’s soldiers.

The Massacre of the Innocents continues today in many lands. In places like the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile in Sudan, government bombing of civilians continues today as the wealthy and powerful in Khartoum try to preserve their tenuous grip on power by massacring the innocent. Hundreds of thousands continue to flee as refugees into South Sudan, like this child from the Blue Nile whose family fled this year to the Yusuf Batil refugee camp in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State. Like Jesus, this child’s parents have been forced to flee from their homes in order to save the lives of their children.

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