Pregnant women fleeing the fighting in Jonglei state, South Sudan.

I
was in the town of Bor when fighting broke out last month in South Sudan. I
managed to escape the town despite being shot in the arm. But many other people
had a far tougher time – people like Nyiel Magot, nine months pregnant and
faced with the awful choice of staying in Bor’s hospital or fleeing into the
bush. 

Against
her doctors' advice, Nyiel decided to escape the immediate danger, and with her
five children, took a narrow path out of town which was packed with people also
heading to safety.

But,
she told me, with every step she took, she grew weaker and more and more people
overtook her. 

"I
was really tired and the pain became really unbearable," Nyiel said. "I knew
the time had come for me to give birth and I had to get out of Bor immediately
to escape the attackers."

Giving
birth in the bush

Later
that evening, the pain finally forced Nyiel to stop. Instead of a hospital
ward, she found an abandoned grass-thatched house.

Luckily,
there was a traditional birth attendant nearby who used her bare hands to help
Nyiel deliver a healthy baby boy.

But
the cold nights and hot days of December in South Sudan soon started to take their
toll on the new born and reports of an imminent rebel attack forced Nyiel and
her family to leave their hideout.

They
walked for days until they crossed the River Nile and came to a large camp for
displaced people in Awerial. And then her baby caught diarrhoea and started to
vomit.

He
was rushed to a hospital in Juba where, after days of treatment, he recovered.

A
child of conflict

It
was in the hospital in Juba that I met Nyiel and heard her story – and also
learned the name of her little baby.

Nyiel
had called him Matuor, the Dinka word for ‘gun’, because he was born amid
gunfire.

As the conflict continues in South Sudan, I fear he won’t be
the last baby born in the bush with such a name. 

Related links

More blogs
from Manyang David Mayar

BBC
Media Action's work in South Sudan

Follow BBC Media Action on Twitter and Facebook

Go back to BBC
Media Action