The trial started at dawn.
After patrolling all night along the fetid paths that wind through this tent city crammed with about 30,000 people fleeing a civil war, an assembly of young men questioned someone suspected of supplying weapons to a rival faction.
“He was seen throwing items over the fence into the camp,” said Nehemiah Joseph, 33, one of the leaders of the patrol. “He said it was meat, but we found no meat. We fear it was weapons.”
They found neither weapons nor meat, so they let the suspect go with a stern warning and a few whacks of a rubber tire.
As South Sudan observed the fourth anniversary of its independence this week, thousands of civilians spent it crammed into this United Nations base, which was originally intended to lodge people helping the world’s newest nation stand on its own.
Now the base is home to a United Nations peacekeeping force, scores of humanitarian organizations and throngs of desperate civilians, many of whom might have been killed if the gates had not been opened to offer them refuge after the civil war broke out in December 2013.This compound and five others around the country now accommodate about 153,000 people, even though the places were never meant to be camps or a long-term solution to the humanitarian crisis stemming from the war.