THERE are cobras and vipers here, and hungry crocodiles and belligerent hippos. But thousands of South Sudanese are hiding in these swamps because they have even greater fear of their own government — which the United States helped install.
“When the soldiers come, we go into the water up to our necks and hide, with only our noses out of the water,” a displaced villager, Nyakier Gatluak, told me after I waded through swamps and rivers to reach the island where she shelters. She and other parents hold children and command them to be silent, hoping that they will be invisible in the water and reeds.
I asked about crocodiles, and Nyakier was fatalistic. “Even if you die in the water, it’s better to be killed by snakes or crocodiles than by soldiers,” she said.