Kerubino Obstruction of Aid to Bahr El Ghazal
Kerubino=s arrival on the scene as a military presence in 1994 meant that insecurity increased. Even when the government of Sudan did not ban access, the OLS often had to call off deliveries because of Kerubino=s raids. One study described Kerubino=s deleterious impact on Bahr El Ghazal and the OLS operations there:
Kerubino is a warlord who appears to be motivated mainly by a desire for vengeance against John Garang, and by loot. Since 1994 he has been marauding throughout northern Bahr El Ghazal from his base in the government enclave of Gogrial. He targets the places that produce most food or hold stocks, stealing what he can and destroying much of what remains. Relief deliveries are prime targets, and the way that OLS works in the region has undergone a progressive change, largely as a result. . . .[E]ventually the concept of a semi-permanent base in the area was abandoned. Airstrips had now been created at a large number of locations; WFP and nongovernmental organizations would visit one place for up to a week at a time, to organize distributions and other programmes. . . . Kerubino would learn its location by monitoring the relief radio communications, and sometimes arrive even before distribution had taken place. So by 1995 the agencies had made the relief procedure much quicker, and were taking precautions against publicizing dates and locations.135
The OLS Review similarly noted that there was a strong correlation since the 1980s between population displacement and militia raiding, with displacement in Wau in July 1996 following the same pattern:
Between January and April 1996, there was an influx of between 1,200 and 2,300 newly displaced in Wau, in the wake of muraheleen raids that brought 5,000 cattle to Wau for sale. In Ajiep [Bahr El Ghazal], Kerubino=s raiding and the muraheleen have frequently coincided with the harvest season. People have survived, but only Athrough partial displacement, and increased reliance on wild foods.@136
The warning signs of economic destruction with the potential for famine were there: OLS also observed that the timing of the attacks appeared designed to have the maximum impact on the Dinka population: the attacks
would appear to be aimed at [the] modest recovery of the (northern Bahr El Ghazal) rural economy. . . . Increased PDF activity along the railway line to Wau in 1994/95 also appears to have been timed to cause maximum disruption to dry season cattle movements and late dry season/early wet season clearing and planting cycles. Raids out of Western Upper Nile [the area of government-aligned Nuer militias] into the northeast and eastern grazing grounds have also disturbed seasonal cattle movement, forcing cattle owners to send their livestock farther away to more secure pastures.137
Kerubino=s military activities in Bahr El Ghazal were described as a Amajor setback@ for civilians in another report:
Kerubino and his forces have consistently raided Gogrial, Twic and Abyei Counties, parts of Aweil East and south into Wau County, destabilizing the region generally and causing even further displacement. Kerubino also severely restricted OLS and non-OLS (e.g., taking ICRC and SPLA hostages in Wunroc at the end of 1996) relief activities by consistently raiding WFP food interventions. What food he could not carry away (usually by captured civilians from the local population) was simply burned.138
One witness described Kerubino=s abuses around Wunrok: his forces looted cows, goats, and sorghum, and burned houses. They raped women and took girls as wives. They did not abduct children, although some men and boys were forcefully conscripted. Some of the women taken as wives returned to their fathers, and some of them stayed with Kerubino=s troops, as wives but Awithout cows@ (i.e., no dowry was paid to the fathers in violation of Dinka custom).139
135 African Rights, Food and Power in Sudan, p. 283.
136 OLS Review, p. 200.
137 Ibid., p. 164.
138 Joint Task Force Report, p. 2.
139 Human Rights Watch interview, Wunrok, Bahr El Ghazal, Sudan, May 8, 1998.