Government Bombing of Relief Sites and Other Security Risks
In February, the first stop the fleeing Dinka and Jur of Wau was Achono, which was bombed heavily by the government, causing the Wau evacuees to keep going to locations further east. The OLS noted, AEmergency teams located close to Aweil, Gogrial and especially Wau - say the situation is very tense, as a result of sporadic bombing, and that people are moving to safer areas.@88 A week later, the situation remained tense, with periodic bombing of areas where the displaced were gathering. OLS personnel still on the ground took measures to protect themselves, such as digging bomb shelters and trenches.89 U.N. and agency situation reports logged bombings in Bahr El Ghazal during the early flight ban:
Feb. 1, 8, 9: Malual Kon, Adet, Akoc
Feb. 4: Achono (three killed)
Feb. 14: Achumchum (one man killed, one woman injured)
Feb. 24: Pakor (one of four sites approved on February 26 for food aid)
Feb. 25: Gogrial
Feb. 28: Adet (one of four sites approved on February 26 for food aid)
March 1: Thiet (sixteen dead, thirteen wounded)
Among the bombed Bahr El Ghazal locations reported by the press in February and March were Adet on February 8 and Thiet on March 1 (killing sixteen);90 Luanyaker town, ninety kilometers (fifty-six miles) northeast of Wau, on February 9;91 and Adet again on March 19.92
By no means did the press document each bombing. The Sudan famine was a very difficult assignment, logistically and in other ways. At times journalists ran into harassment from lower level SPLA officials.93 The OLS security chief, who was in a better position to see the big picture on bombing of OLS activities, reported that from January to mid-April, 1998, fourteen OLS relief locations were bombed.94 The most spectacular bombing outside of Bahr El Ghazal during the flight ban was the bombing of the civilian hospital in Yei, Equatoria, on February 15, killing seven patients.95 The SPLA had a military headquarters outside of Yei,96 but Yei town and hospital appeared to be the government=s chosen targets.97
Human Rights Watch interviewed a man who had gone to the Yei Hospital for chest problems. At 9:00 a.m. in early March 1998, he was waiting for the doctor on the veranda inside the hospital. He heard the sound of a plane. He ran for the hospital shelter but it was full and he could not get in. He ran to hide near the operating theater of the hospital. One bomb fell away from the hospital. The second bomb hit the shelter and killed seven people inside, injuring others. He was injured by shrapnel from this bomb, below the knees on both legs.98
The NPA hospital in Yei was bombed twelve times in all in 1998, and in January 1999 a Norwegian member of parliament visiting Yei was caught in a government bombing raid in which five bombs were dropped on that town.99 In mid-January 1999, the hospital at Kajo Keiji, run by MSF, was bombed by the government, destroying the immunization block and causing extensive damage to surgical and outpatient departments.100
OLS reports and other agency reports identified the following relief locations as having been bombed in April and May outside of Bahr El Ghazal:
April 10: Yei, Equatoria
April 28: Wonduruba
May 3, 13, 23, 25: Ikotos, Equatoria
May 13, 23, 28: Paluer
May 13: Pakor
May 23: Panyagor, Kongor, Jonglei
On June 12, in Panacier, Bahr El Ghazal, a Sudanese government Antonov bomber dropped six bombs in the proximity of World Vision's emergency feeding center.101
In 1998, according to the U.N., indiscriminate bombing by the government of Sudan of civilian populations was reported on fifty-seven separate occasions.102
During 1998, 228 relief personnel were evacuated on forty-five occasions. Looting of compounds in Western Upper Nile forced a shut-down of programs. OLS vehicles in southern Sudan, northern Kenya, and Uganda were ambushed on thirteen separate occasions.103
88 OLS (Southern Sector), Northern BEG Emergency Sitrep No. 2, 6 February 1998.
89 OLS (Southern Sector), BEG Emergency Sitrep No. 4, 14 February 1998.
90 Mckinley, Jr., AFamine Looming.@
91 Matthew Bigg, @U.N. Says 100,000 Sudanese at Risk after Battle,@ Reuters, Nairobi, February 10, 1998.
92 Xu Jianmei, AWar-Wounded Sudanese Yearn to Go Home,@ Xinhua Agency, Lokichokio, Kenya, April 3, 1998.
93 Mick Toal, in ANo Winners in an Endless War,@ Sunday Herald Sun (Australia), April 12, 1998, reported, APhotographing the effects of the bombing or showing an interest in military activity leads to arrest.@ He was arrested four times by SPLA military intelligence during his visit. In Yei a senior SPLA officer intervened, but finally he was escorted (minus some of his camera gear) from another location to the Uganda border.
94 W.F. Deedes, ASudan: Notebook - Praise to Those Who Never Despair,@ Daily Telegraph (London), April 17, 1998.
95 Chege Mbitiru, AAid worker: Sudanese air force bombs hospital, killing seven patients,@ AP, Nairobi, March 5, 1998; Human Rights Watch interview, Lokichokkio, May
96 The government insisted that all of Yei was one large military base, but a Human Rights Watch visit in October 1997 revealed that this was not so. A chief told Human Rights Watch that the SPLA had been based inside Yei but he and other chiefs prevailed on the SPLA commander to move the base outside of town to reduce the incidence of abuses against civilians committed by undisciplined soldiers.
97 Even a military hospital is not a legitimate military target; this hospital treated both military and civilian patients.
98 Human Rights Watch interview, Lokichokkio, May 10, 1998.
99 "Norway MP caught in Sudan government bombing raid,@ Reuters, Nairobi, January 28, 1999.
100 "Sudan Govt Bombed Civilian Hospital Aid Agency,@ Reuters, Nairobi, January 14, 1999.
101 AGovernment plane bombs feeding centre in southern Sudan,@ AFP, Nairobi, June 12, 1998.
102 OCHA, Consolidated Appeal for Sudan, 1999, p. 20.