Long Walk to Safety

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Shannon Jensen of the US won second prize at the Days Japan International Photojournalism Awards 2013 for her work on refugees of Sudan’s Blue Nile State

Thirty thousand men, women and children from Sudan’s Blue Nile State sought an end to nine months of terror and trauma by crossing the border into neighbouring South Sudan in June last year. They joined a population of 70,000 refugees who preceded them in fleeing an organised military campaign to crush northern remnants of the Southern liberation movement.

Many of the new arrivals had never left the vicinity of their villages before shelling, bombardment, and gunmen drove them away. They fled from shrublands to nearby hills and back again, often stuck behind enemy lines, before they were finally able to reach the border, a journey made perilous by the dearth of water and food as well as the risk of ambush and attack. This poignant array of worn-out, ill-fitting and jerry-rigged shoes offers silent testimony to the arduous nature of their journey as well as the persistence and ingenuity of those who survived it.