Out of the bush emerge a line of 328 ragged Dinka men, women and children. They walk in silence behind their master – a northern Sudanese slave trader. Slavery here is a tool of war. Raiders from the Islamic north come to raze the villages of the Christian south, from where the SPLA guerrillas mount their counter attacks. Into the equation have arrived Western NGOs. One of the most controversial is Christian Solidarity. Under the gaze of the slaves CS’s John Eibner hands over £10,000 for their freedom. Once the Transaction is complete the freed slaves break into applause. Picking up a discarded bicycle wheel, Alek, whose feet have been chained for two years, runs off to play. Modern slavery has ravaged a whole generation of Dinka. Many of the former slaves’ homes have been destroyed. And many more have been so disturbed by their experiences they cannot imagine a future. Alim was raped by her master and his friends, “I don’t have the courage to carry on living,” she says. The pressure to end the abhorrent practice is driving more charities to buy slaves freedom, but intervening may well be perpetuating the trade.
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