Cease-fire Brought Relief
The government and SPLA, after extensive international prodding led by Derek Fatchett, Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, agreed to a three-month cease-fire (or Asafe corridors@ plan) for humanitarian purposes for Bahr El Ghazal, starting July 15, 1998.250 This cease-fire came at the request of the international community and relief agencies, which cited numerous instances where fighting was preventing food deliveries to desperately needy people.251 It was extended until January 15, 1999,252 and then until April 15, 1999.253
The increase in volume of food delivered after the cease-fire (coinciding with the build-up of OLS) was marked: WFP delivered 10,300 MT of food aid in July to southern Sudan, and 16,800 MT in August, 70 percent by air.254 Food deliveries to Bahr El Ghazal in September were about 15,000 MT.255
Experience has shown that most temporary cease-fires are agreed to when they can serve military purposes, such as an occasion to reposition and resupply troops. A cease-fire that truly halts famine-producing military campaigns and raids would be essential to halt the major causes of famine.
Higher levels of aid in rural areas in August and September, the July 15 cease-fire, and heavy rains led to a reduction in rural famine migrants going to Wau. Some famine victims were even attracted from adjacent areas. There was a reconciliation meeting between the Twic Dinka in eastern Bahr El Ghazal and their neighbors, the western Nuer of Bentiu in September 1998, and as a result tens of thousands of Nuer began to arrive in Twic County seeking food in October 1998, since no relief was getting through to their insecure area where two pro-government militias were battling it out.0
There is precedent for a cease-fire being helpful in the Bahr El Ghazal famine area. A cease-fire from May through October 1989 in this area prevented a descent into famine comparable to 1988, because the muraheleen raiding stopped and planting took place.1
Unfortunately, the 1998 raids did not stop with the Bahr El Ghazal cease-fire, although they slowed down. Shortly after the cease-fire agreement was announced, the government proclaimed that the muraheleen of the Rizeigat (Baggara) tribe destroyed three camps belonging to the SPLA in Bahr El Ghazal. Rizeigat paramount chief Said Mohammed Musa Madibo claimed to federal authorities that his forces killed ninety-eight persons, found forty-two injured rebels, and retrieved a large number of cattle and sheep stolen by the rebels.2 This is exactly what was not supposed to happen under the cease-fire.
250 "Sudanese rebels announce unilateral cease-fire for three months,@ AP, Nairobi, July 15, 1998; ASudanese Rebels Announce Cease-Fire for Three Months,@ AP, Nairobi, July 16, 1998; UNICEF immediately urged the parties to extend the three-month Bahr El Ghazal cease-fire in time and area. AUNICEF chief warns cease-fire not enough for southern Sudan,@ AP, Nairobi, July 23, 1998.
251 WFP, Press Release, AWFP Executive Director Catherine Bertini calls on international community to help end fighting in Southern Sudan,@ New York, July 10, 1998.
252 "Sudan, Rebels to Extend Cease-Fire,@ AP, United Nations, New York, October 12, 1998. The SPLA announced it was extending the cease-fire in Bahr El Ghazal to Western Upper Nile, where pro-government militias were fighting each other and the SPLA had no troops. ASudan rebels say extending ceasefire in south,@ Reuters, Nairobi, October 8, 1998. The government said it wanted to extend the cease-fire throughout Sudan, but ultimately only agreed to a Bahr El Ghazal cease-fire.
253 Ian Fisher, AWarring Parties in Sudan Extend Cease-Fire in Famine Area,@ New York Times, January 16, 1999.
254 WFP, Emergency Report, No. 36 of 1998, September 11, 1998: Sudan.
255 WFP, Emergency Report No. 38 of 1998, September 25, 1998: Sudan.
0 "Famine Takes Hold in Bahr El Ghazal as Unrest is Feared for 1999,@ Sudan Democratic Gazette (London), Year IX, No. 101, October 1998, p. 5. See the chapter on Western Upper Nile below.
1 African Rights, Food and Power in Sudan, p. 95. From May to September 1989 there was a national cease-fire (except in the central Nuba Mountains); early OLS operations were tied to Acorridors of tranquility.@ This permitted planting without interference by the raiders. Then in 1990, breaking with the past pattern, there was a truce along the border between the SPLA and Misseriya and Rizeigat (Baggara subgroups) which continued-- intermittently-- until 1996. OLS Review, p. 172. It allowed people to circulate between their homes areas and relief centers in government-held areas, as circumstances required. Ibid.
2 ASudanese militiamen report killing 98 rebels in Bahr al-Ghazal,@ DPA, Khartoum, July 23, 1998.