How a Sudanese boy came to be named '1 o'clock'
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One day during Sawah's trip, she encountered some Arab militia men demanding taxes. Her group pooled jewelry and cash to pay off the men, who then let them go. Several miles later, though, the travelers were suddenly getting shot at. Sawah ran. But this time, 1 o'clock's new mom held tight to him. She sprinted for cover and escaped. Sawah says she recognized some of the shooters. They were the men who'd stopped them for taxes earlier.Skip to next paragraph
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After nine months on the road - a trip that included stopovers to earn money - she arrived home. At first her relatives greeted her warmly and housed her brood. But they couldn't help indefinitely. And authorities had given the land Sawah and her husband once owned to a new cellphone company. She doesn't expect to get it back.
Soon she and her kids moved into their current camp - a collection of about 50 eight-foot-square structures made from palm fronds. It's home to about 350 people. One o'clock can stand inside his home and peer through the leaves at the other kids. They all sleep on the dirt floor. A net keeps the bugs away. Sawah's biggest need, she says, is childcare. She's too busy caring for her kids to go cut down wood for a proper tukle, or hut.
Around Africa, there are the UN plans to help 150,000 people return to Liberia this year, building on the first 7,000 who went back last year. Some 150,000 are expected to return to Burundi, up from 90,000 last year. Also, 53,000 Angolans, 10,000 Rwandans, and an unknown number of Somalis may return. These are just the people the UN expects to help during their journeys. Tens of thousands will go on their own.
And if Uganda can finally end its 18-year war with northern rebels, many of the 1.6 million displaced people could go home, too.
To be sure, many other Africans are also fleeing their homes. In eastern Congo, more than 150,000 people have been driven away in the past month, according to reports.
And in the past two months, the UN says, some 25,000 people in Sudan's other conflict - in Darfur - fled increased fighting between the government and rebels, many because their villages were attacked.
There's a debate about how to deal with returnees like Sawah. International aid groups don't want more camps built, and are encouraging returnees to get help from relatives.
"There were so many camps during the war," says one UN staffer in southern Sudan, who requested anonymity. "Peace shouldn't mean a whole new set of camps." But local officials worry the returnee wave will swamp local communities, causing new tensions.
"What am I supposed to do, put all of them in my private house?" complains Muorwel Majok, a county official in Rumbek. An imperfect compromise may involve "welcome centers" where returnees can stay only a few days.
Meanwhile, Sawah waits. She hopes officials will give her a new plot. And she expects her other children will come soon - and meet their new brother. In all, her journey was worth it. "I ran from danger in Khartoum and found this child," she says. "He is my reward."