Mary Deng, a Dinka mother has found refuge in opposition-held Ganyiel, escaping food insecurity in her former home. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Stefanie Glinskin
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Surrounded by swamps and accessible only by plane or boat, South Sudan's Ganyiel, a rebel-held town in a country torn apart by civil war, has been dubbed a "haven of peace" by its residents. Impoverished and living with the constant threat of floods, Ganyiel's population of some 40,000 people nevertheless consider themselves lucky. The war has killed tens of thousands of people and created Africa's largest refugee crisis.While the rest of the country is divided, Ganyiel, sheltered by marshes that form natural defenses in the center of the country, has grown as an ethnically mixed town that could serve as a model for nurturing pockets of peace elsewhere.CHALLENGESA third of South Sudan's 12 million population has fled their homes amid persistent reports of gang rape and ethnic violence.The town has depended on food distributions by the U.N.'s World Food Program as long as residents can remember.Commodities and people have always moved in and out of the town, mixing its residents with outsiders.Adut Amal, a Dinka woman from the town of Yirol, about 60 kilometers to the south, is the widow of a Nuer man.
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