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Approximately 204,500 people were internally displaced from Western Upper Nile/Unity State from mid-1998 until February 2001, conservatively estimated, with the usual caveat that numbers in the south of Sudan are often no more than educated guesses. As of March 2002, the total number of displaced persons who fled Western Upper Nile/Unity State to elsewhere in Upper Nile and to Lakes (part of Bahr El Ghazal) alone was estimated at 174,200. This displacement, accomplished through war as the means of control of the strategic and valuable oilfields, was illegal under international rules of war. These civilians were not displaced for one of two permissible reasons under the rules of war: “imperative military reasons” or the safety of the civilians. They were not allowed to go or to remain at home after the danger of a military campaign was over. They were pushed off their land, in some cases many times, by goverment army or militia forces, for the purpose of emptying the oil areas of southern civilians whom the central government regarded as “security threats” to oil development, solely on account of their ethnic origin and therefore presumed rebel loyalties.

The government tried to control this “security threat” by the most extreme means of removal, using military land and air invasions, killing, looting, burning, and destroying the local subsistence economy and killing and injuring civilians. At the same time it cut the area off from humanitarian assistance by imposing relief flight bans and denials of access, while only allowing food into garrison towns, where it could serve as a magnet to draw starving people to crowded areas under government control: a textbook case of a counterinsurgency operation.

Some rebel leaders complicated the scenario through attempts to manipulate the humanitarian structures. In an effort to demonstrate his military support in the field, in 2000 Riek Machar tried to parlay his political control of the Relief Association for Southern Sudan (RASS) into proof of his control of Nuer areas. And the SPLA’s attempts to impose further controls on NGOs in its territory pushed more independent-minded NGOs out of its territory. The SPLA then jeopardized the Wunlit peace agreeement when it launched an attack from Dinka territory on a relief hub at Nyal, Western Upper Nile/Unity State serving the Nuer.

Numbers of Nuer and Dinka Displaced from Oil Blocks in Western Upper Nile/Unity State

According to information provided by the WFP and others, an estimated 204,500 civilians in Western Upper Nile/Unity State were displaced from the time the oilfield conflict escalated in 1998 through February 2001. Their movements in search of safety and food took them in different directions, sometimes to the edge of an oil concession, sometimes to the toic, sometimes to a garrison town, and sometimes outside of Western Upper Nile/Unity State. Those who were hiding in areas inaccessible to relief organizations usually were not counted.

The estimated numbers of displaced from Western Upper Nile/Unity State break down as follows: 1998-99: 70,500; 2000-February 2001: 134,000 displaced; and as of March 2002, 174,200 remained displaced.904 While none of these numbers is more than an estimate or a snapshot, together they provide a means of comparison: numbers of displaced were on the increase.


The WFP in December 1999 estimated that since the conflict moved to the oilfields in 1998 WFP had assessed about 70,500 Western Upper Nile/Unity State displaced or war-affected civilians in need of food and other aid.905 This included only those people who were identified in relief needs assessments by relief personnel. The internally displaced in the most remote areas—people who had fled into the toic or other inaccessible areas for safety—rarely were counted by any agency and their number was not known.

The rough estimate of 70,500 displaced from 1998-99 originating in Western Upper Nile/Unity State was in two parts:

(1) OLS Southern Sector, served from Kenya: 40,500. OLS noted that expulsions from Western Upper Nile/Unity State included 17,500 Nuer from Mankien (Block 4) 906 and 23,000 Nuer from Ler and Koch (Block 5A) who went to Bahr El Ghazal or other areas of Upper Nile,907 that is, from both the GNPOC and Lundin Block 5A concessions.

The Nuer from Ler and Koch included those who left immediately after the fighting in May-June 1999, when more than 3,000 displaced people were received in Nyal (including 2,250 women and children).908 Another 4,000 of these displaced people went to Ganyliel (including 2,800 women and children).909 But as the fighting raged back and forth and up and down Block 5A, more and more persons were dislodged from their homes in fear, and fled by August 1999. A large displaced persons area formed in Pabuong, an eight-hour walk west of Nyal.

(2) OLS Northern Sector, served from Khartoum: some 30,000 needy displaced in Bentiu, Rubkona, Pariang, Mayom (Blocks 5A, 1, and 2), and other garrison towns, many of them fleeing the oilfield areas, estimated by the WFP in October 1999.910


The numbers displaced from their place of origin in Western Upper Nile/Unity State in 2000-February 2001 were approximately 134,000 persons, a very conservative estimate derived from three sources.911

(1) The first is the U.N. Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Sudan 2001. It states that there was a large influx of approximately 60,000 internally displaced persons into Bentiu in July and August 2000. It noted, however, that those outside Bentiu were not being served: “the fragile security situation outside of Bentiu town has restricted access to the communities either prior to or during displacement.”912

Only the ones who went to Bentiu in a period of two months were included in the U.N. appeal’s estimate of approximately 60,000 displaced in Western Upper Nile/Unity State for all of 2000. This number is therefore likely to be a gross undercount. Most of these displaced, according to the observations of NGO Action Against Hunger (Action Contre la Faim, ACF), lived within a one hundred kilometer radius of Bentiu, and were fleeing fighting between factions that had resulted in looting and destruction of villages.913

There were thousands more who were displaced because of the conflict and oil in 2000 who did not go to Bentiu at all, but went to Bahr El Ghazal,914 or into the displaced-receiving areas established in Western Upper Nile/Unity State in 1999—Ganyliel, Pabuong, and Nyal—or into Bul Nuer areas where they could not be counted because of flight bans, fighting, and weather. Those people are not included in the above 60,000 estimate.

(2) A separate and additional assessment carried out in Tonj County of Bahr El Ghazal in February 2001 indicated that another 23,000 Nuer displaced from Western Upper Nile/Unity State had arrived recently, in organized groups.915 These are added to the 60,000 above, because it is unlikely that these displaced were counted twice.

(3) An additional summation by WFP for Liech State (Western Upper Nile/Unity State) indicates that in January-February 2001 there were about 51,000 additional persons displaced who remained inside Western Upper Nile/Unity State, at locations served from OLS (Southern Sector), i.e., not in Bentiu.916

This very conservative estimate of newly displaced in/from Western Upper Nile/Unity State for January 2000-February 2001 is 134,000.

2001-March 2002

As of March 2002, the number of internally displaced individuals from Western Upper Nile was estimated to be 174,200,917 according to a summary report of that date by WFP and OLS. This number of displaced individuals is directly attributable to the conflicts in the oilfields.

This is a very conservative estimate as well. It does not include some 57,000 persons displaced in Upper Nile by what was called “inter-clan fighting.”918 This phenomenon cannot be so clearly disaggregated from the overall conflict because the arms supply comes almost entirely from the two main parties. Furthermore, the number of 174,200 is low because it only incorporates those in the Lakes (in Bahr El Ghazal) and Upper Nile regions, though many displaced persons have gone as far as Khartoum and other parts of Bahr El Ghazal.

The WFP/OLS report attributed the displacement in the 2001-March 2002 period to the “Government of Sudan forces and militias offensives on the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army/Movement (SPLM/A) and the Sudan Peoples Defence Forces/Movement (SPDF/M) rebel areas and fighting among the rebel factions themselves.”919 Further, the report notes that “[d]ue to the conflict around the oilfields . . . .Upper Nile has the highest number of IDPs [of all regions in Sudan].”920

These figures are the most reliable available, though even they are only rough estimates. The numbers were “collated from internal WFP filed reports (assessments and food distribution reports), OLS joint assessment missions, OLS Security team, NGO and counterpart reports.”921 Even with the proviso that the figures provided are only rough, however, the extraordinary extent of continued displacement from the oilfields is abundantly clear.

The Illegality of Forced Displacement under International Humanitarian Law

Displacement in Sudan’s oilfields is conducted by military means with the use of the armed forces, militias, airpower, and heavy weaponry to drive civilians out of their homes without notice, a hearing, compensation, or any of the trappings of fair trial that accompany displacement conducted pursuant to law for the purpose of legitimate economic development. The objective of the displacement is a military and economic one: to capture and hold valuable oilfields and to eliminate “enemy” threats to take back the territory.

Displacement of civilians for war-related reasons is forbidden under article 17 of Protocol II of 1977, to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.922 Under international humanitarian law, there are only two exceptions to the prohibition on displacement of civilians during internal armed conflicts: their security or imperative military reasons. Article 17 of Protocol II states:

1. The displacement of the civilian population shall not be ordered for reasons related to the conflict unless the security of the civilians involved or imperative military reasons so demand. Should such displacements have to be carried out, all possible measures shall be taken in order that the civilian population may be received under satisfactory conditions of shelter, hygiene, health, safety and nutrition.

The term “imperative military reasons” usually refers to evacuation because of imminent military operations. Such evacuation assumes proper procedures for notification and evacuation, and proper means of transport to a safe place. It does not include a military attack on a civilian population, which is not a legitimate military objective under international law.923 Nor does it include pillage, a breach of well-established international law.

The provisional measure of evacuation is appropriate if an area is in danger as a result of military operations or is liable to be subjected to intense bombing. Evacuation may also be permitted when the presence of protected persons in an area hampers military operations. The prompt return of the evacuees to their homes is required as soon as hostilities in the area have ceased. The evacuating authority bears the burden of proving that its forcible relocation conforms to these conditions.

Displacement or capture of civilians solely to deny a social base to the enemy has nothing to do with the security of the civilians. Nor is it justified by “imperative military reasons,” which require “the most meticulous assessment of the circumstances”924 because such reasons are so capable of abuse. One authority stated:

Clearly, imperative military reasons cannot be justified by political motives. For example, it would be prohibited to move a population in order to exercise more effective control over a dissident ethnic group.925

Mass relocation or displacement of civilians for the purpose of removing an ethnic group deemed friendly to rebels is prohibited since it is a political motive as described above. Certainly, permanent displacement of an ethnic group from its place of origin in order to ensure security for oil operations from rebels who might someday move through the area to attack oil infrastructure is illegal under the rules of war. Such permanent relocation is not for the safety of the civilians, nor for “imperative” military operations, which by their nature are temporary.

Even if the government were to show that the displacement were necessary, it still has the independent obligation to take “all possible measures” to receive the civilian population “under satisfactory conditions of shelter, hygiene, health, safety, and nutrition.” The Sudanese government has singularly failed to meet its obligation to care for displaced persons, and, furthermore, actively obstructs others who would do so. This has been the government’s pattern and practice for almost two decades, as amply documented in several academic studies of relief operations in Sudan and in assessments for donors.926

Contractually-Incurred Obligations Forbidding Forced Displacement

In additional to the provisions of international humanitarian law, the parties are bound by the agreements they have signed regarding forcible relocation of residents. On December 15, 1999, representatives of the warring parties (Elijah Malok Aleng for the SPLM/A and James Mabor Gatkuoth for the Sudanese government), along with the U.N. (Ross Mountain), signed a tripartite agreement on the implementation of assistance to war affected civilians. Item 5 specifically provided:

Beneficiaries have the right to protection from forcible relocation from their legal or recognized place of residence

The Parties to the Conflict agree and guarantee that no beneficiary will be forcibly relocated from his or her legal or recognized place of residence. . . . When communities may be relocated they will be consulted on an individual and community basis on alternatives to relocation. Where communities are to be relocated, they are guaranteed individual and community participation in the relocation process, particularly prior to relocation, and will be given a reasonable period of notice prior to relocation. Communities will only be relocated to suitable sites with basic services and proper accommodation in place prior to relocation. Communities will only be relocated in a manner that preserves the right to life, dignity, liberty and security.927

These provisions have been totally ignored by the government, especially in the oilfields. The government and SPLM/A in March 2002 signed an agreement not to attack civilians or civilian objects in the war, at the behest of the U.S., but fighting after that date was carried on without regard to that agreement, particularly in Western Upper Nile/Unity State.

Oil Operations as a Military Objective

Oil operations would in many circumstances qualify as a legitimate military objective. To constitute a legitimate military objective, the object or target, selected by its nature, location, purpose, or use, must contribute effectively to the enemy’s military capability or activity, and its total or partial destruction or neutralization must offer a definite military advantage in the circumstances prevailing at the time.928

Oil revenues contribute effectively to the Sudanese government’s military capability and activity, and the destruction of oil infrastructure therefore offers a definite military advantage in the circumstances. 929 The targeting of valuable export commodities has been considered legitimate since the U.S. Civil War of the 1860s. Then, the destruction of raw cotton, the chief export of the Confederate states, was deemed—as Art. 52 (2) of Protocol I requires, “in the circumstances prevailing at the time”—to make an effective contribution to military action since it was the ultimate source of funding for Confederate weapons and military supplies.930

There are nevertheless limits on the rights of the parties to a conflict in selecting targets. For one, Protocol I, article 55 would apply, for instance, to targeting oilrigs in the Nile or other waterway where a spill might result in damage to the environment. The article states that the attacker may not use methods or means of warfare “which are intended or may be expected to cause such damage to the natural environment and thereby to prejudice the health or survival of the population.”

Of course, civilians, including oilfield workers, are never a legitimate military target. Should they bear arms, it would be different, but those are not the facts in Western Upper Nile/Unity State as of the writing of this report. Any targeting of oil company or subcontractor employees who are not engaged in hostilities would be a violation of the rules of war.

Relief Politics and Abuses in the South

Relief in Sudan is a complex, decade-old “emergency” operation. Most relief agencies, U.N. and nongovernmental, operate under the U.N. umbrella group Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS).931 This unique cross-border operation was created after the Bahr El Ghazal famine of 1988 and was designed to serve rebel-held areas from Kenya. Western Upper Nile/Unity State is divided for relief purposes between two sections of OLS; this is common throughout the south. The northern sector, based in Khartoum, provides for government-controlled areas, including garrison towns such as Bentiu, Mayom, Pariang, and other locations in Blocks 1, 2, 4, and 5A. The southern sector, based in Nairobi and operating from Lokichokkio, Kenya, where the huge U.N. “emergency” operation has been located for more than a decade , covers the areas that were in rebel or former rebel control,932 including the territory in Block 5A,933 with some exceptions.934

In most rebel-held areas either the SPLM/A or Riek Machar’s forces have functioned as the de facto government. Their respective relief arms—Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association (SRRA) for the SPLM/A and Relief Association for Southern Sudan (RASS) for Riek Machar—were recognized as “counterpart” agencies representing “local authorities” and received their funding from the OLS.935 Their duties include assisting in needs assessments and the distribution of food.936 SRRA and RASS staff, almost all rebel officers, do not depend on local financing, but owe their jobs to the rebel leaders who appoint them, negating community accountability.937 After the reunification of the Riek Machar group with the SPLM/A in January 2002, the two relief agencies were merged and renamed the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SRRC) in 2003.

Government Flight Bans and Bombings of Relief Locations in Western Upper Nile

The Sudanese government has routinely aggravated the suffering of those displaced by the civil war by imposing flight bans on agencies wishing to bring relief supplies into the south, or bombing airstrips where relief supplies are landed: a ban on most access to Western Upper Nile/Unity State was in effect for more than two years until the parties agreed on October 26, 2002 to full humanitarian access everywhere, in the context of the peace talks.938

These access bans not only barred efforts to help civilians recover from attacks on them and their property. They also make it difficult for international relief staff to observe the extent of destruction and displacement caused by the fighting, which produced the needy persons it is their mandate to care for. International relief staff reporting on population needs and movements are routinely suspected as “spies” by the Sudanese government, but their assessments are a necessity of their work, and the human rights side benefits are unintended and coincidental. Nevertheless, the Sudanese government has banned relief workers on countless occasions, in order to make it difficult for anything to be known of its brutal actions against civilians.

The government also commandeered or used other relief supplies to attract the displaced to areas where they could be controlled by government forces. Such practices are described as “using food as a weapon”: food given out by government authorities would attract civilians from rebel rural areas into the government garrison towns in the face of international failure to reach the rural areas. All parties to the conflict long ago realized that relief food is a magnet for starving civilians.939

In 1999, for example, during its offensive in Block 1 (see above, “Government Campaign of Forcible Displacement from Block 1, February-July 1999”), the government sought to push people from rural (SPLA) areas and also to pull them in to Pariang, the garrison town. In May 1999, government security forces in Pariang commandeered a consignment of twenty-three metric tons of cereals and pulses belonging to the WFP, and in late June they distributed sixteen metric tons of this to internally displaced persons in this garrison town, without notice to or authorization from the WFP. The WFP protested to the Khartoum government, but the government response was not reported; nor were the missing seven metric tons of food accounted for in later WFP reports.940 At the same time, a flight ban prevented deliveries to the rural areas. .941

One of the easiest ways to push civilians out has been by bombing relief delivery locations and airstrips (usually found in close proximity to each other). In early July 1999, the Sudanese army used helicopter gunships to bomb the rebel-held areas around several relief airstrips in Block 1. Local people told a visiting OLS security officer that helicopter gunships had attacked them on July 4 and 5 at Gumriak, Tagil, and a new relief airstrip at Biem, leaving two killed and three injured in Gumriak, and three killed in Tagil.942 This fighting caused Biem, Tagil, Gumriak, and Padit airstrips to be declared “no-go” or unsafe areas by OLS southern sector on July 4.943

These dirt airstrips, built by the local population in order to receive relief deliveries, are only for relief aid purposes. The relief airstrips are not legitimate military targets in and of themselves as the SPLA does not have an airforce or planes.

On July 14, 1999, the government announced a ban on relief flights to most of Western Upper Nile/Unity State, with immediate effect and until further notice.944 This came on the heels of the July 3 surprise attack by SSDF/Tito Biel rebel forces on the government position at Ler and a rebel rollback of government forces all the way north to the Bahr El Ghazal (Nam) River. The flight ban was announced as the government commenced its bombing of rebel forces and the subsequent rebel rout, accompanied by more army/militia attacks on civilians as it pursued the rebels south. As the government was generating this new wave of displacement in the oilfields, OLS had “virtually no access to Western Upper Nile.”945

The government flight ban even included Nyal and Ganyliel, areas with no fighting to which the internally displaced were fleeing in the thousands.946 Off and on for a few months in 1999, Cmdr. Tito Biel had his field headquarters in Nyal, and that was probably what lead Khartoum to ban access. This was a military rather than a humanitarian consideration, despite the thousands of newly displaced and needy persons in Nyal who greatly outnumbered any possible troops. Khartoum also denied relief access to Ler, Boaw, and Duar, in those cases perhaps a sign that the government did not control those towns.947

This blocked not only the assessment of new needs and assistance to what appeared later to be thousands of displaced from the oilfields. On-going non-emergency programs were also halted. A planned immunization of 50,000 children had to be called off.948

The locations where there was an actual security risk because of ongoing fighting were not at issue. The U.N. put them off limits temporarily. Locations where there was conflict, including Nimne, Nhialdiu, Koch, and Wicok, were put off limits by OLS (Southern Sector) security personnel which labeled them “Red-No-Go” until the security personnel could land and verify that it was safe for relief workers to return, usually only a day or two period of time..949 Bentiu and Rubkona, and the Nile River along the Adok corridor, were declared OLSA no-go areas also from time to time, depending on the actual security situation.950 But the Sudanese government-imposed bans went far beyond the OLS no-go areas and beyond areas of active combat, and extended long after fighting was over.

The U.N. quietly protested the extensive July 14, 1999 flight ban on Western Upper Nile/Unity State to the Sudanese government but received no response. On July 27, the WFP issued a public warning that some 150,000 people in Western Upper Nile/Unity State were in need of relief but could not be reached, and that unless the government lifted its flight ban on the area soon, “we could be heading toward a humanitarian catastrophe. . . . We’re looking at a lethal mix of a weakened population which cannot be reached and are starting to flee their homes.”951 In addition, some banned areas, including Nyal and Ler, had reported cholera outbreaks, leaving the emergency medical teams and relief authorities extremely concerned that epidemics might spread out of control.952

In mid-August, all locations in Western Upper Nile/Unity State except for Nyal remained no-go areas for relief deliveries for security reasons.953 Then the security situation in Bentiu town improved and WFP staff returned.954 They completed food distributions during the week of August 25, 1999, to some 7,000 beneficiaries in Bentiu and verified the presence of almost 1,000 newly arrived displaced persons into Rubkona (Block 1) from the six villages nearby where there was “insecurity.”955

The government flight ban was lifted and by early September the relief agencies could finally access almost all Western Upper Nile/Unity State locations.956 But the window only opened briefly, to be snapped shut because of fighting following Peter Gatdet’s mutiny from Paulino Matiep starting September 9-10,1999.

By mid-November 1999, the U.N. relief officials reported, about half the people who had fled Bentiu town (Block 1) since July 1999—when fighting erupted and Riek Machar supporters in Bentiu were selectively killed or detained—returned to Bentiu town. Some 10,000, however, remained along the road between Bentiu and Rubkona. CARE resumed some of its most urgent humanitarian activities in Bentiu.957

But as the military action heated up again in at the beginning of the dry season in late 1999, the Khartoum government reduced the number of locations that WFP could reach by air, again denying access to most of the population in Western Upper Nile/Unity State.958 This forced many more war-affected civilians to leave the oil areas if they wanted assistance, as was apparently the government’s intention.

By November 1999 the WFP protested that many areas of Western Upper Nile/Unity State continued to be inaccessible to humanitarian agencies, and that 140,000 vulnerable people were cut off from emergency food assistance. A return to famine remained an ever-present specter, a WFP official warned.959

Based on the evidence above, government bombing of relief airstrips where the needy displaced persons congregated was designed to prevent agencies from delivering relief to rebel-held areas and to scare people away from relief locations there, prompting further displacement. This tactic was used in Western Upper Nile/Unity State in 1999-2002, and in 2001 in Raga, Western Bahr El Ghazal.

For instance, more than 6,000 displaced persons in Biem and a slightly larger number in Tagiel, both SPLM/A areas of Ruweng County in Block 1, received relief aid in February 2000.960 Some 2,300 of these 6,000 had been displaced from Bentiu town because of SPLA/Gatdet bombardment as well as periodic assassinations of Nuer and Dinka civilians by government forces. On February 17, 2000, the government bombed Biem.961

In late July and early August 2000, the fighting between Cmds. Peter Gatdet and Peter Paar was in full swing in the Nimne-Bentiu-Rupnyagai-Nhialdiu-Boaw-Wicok axis, along the Block 5A-1-4 border, and no relief was going through. Then outside of this area, with implications for the entire south, the government took a new tactic. Instead of just banning relief airstrips or bombing them, it increased the risks of relief delivery. It bombed relief airstrips when relief aircraft were on the ground, nearly hitting the planes and in some cases inflicting substantial damage on the planes with shrapnel.962

These bombings occurred within a week or ten days (on one day there were three bombings on different airstrips), and caused great concern to all pilots flying into Sudan, whether they were working with the U.N., with the ICRC, or were flying without Khartoum’s permission. The point seemed to be a warning, interpreted by nervous pilots as follows: “Now we are bombing the airstrips when the planes are on the ground. Next we will bomb the planes when they are on the ground. Next we will attack the planes when they are in the air.”963 OLS declared its own flight ban for security reasons, rightly considering the bombing a denial of access.964 Some relief staff complained, however, that the OLS ban was playing into the hands of Khartoum.

At the same time, the Sudanese government wanted to impose a new series of restrictions and limitations on relief operations coming out of Kenya, such as posting a representative of the Khartoum government in Lokichokkio, requiring a two-week advance notification of the exact aircraft (call sign, make) that would be flying to a particular relief location (latitude and longitude).965 The tightening up of restrictions on access was done by the Sudanese government with an eye to ultimately achieving its stated goal, the relocation of all relief activities to government-controlled towns inside Sudan, where they could be more easily and more tightly controlled by the government. The Sudanese government was motivated by its conviction that the U.N. southern sector relief operation served the SPLM/A. It had long sought to close down the southern sector, without regard to the fate of several million desperate civilians.

A U.N. relief coordinator for southern Sudan pointed out the bright side: that through persistence the OLS had increased the needy areas (or airstrips) to which it had access over the years. In March and May 1994 OLS (Southern Sector) had access to seventy-seven locations on a monthly basis. In mid-2000, it had access to one hundred locations on a monthly basis.966

The problem, as a top relief official noted, was not the gross numbers of landing strips accessed. The OLS’s review of the government’s flight bans revealed that there was a pattern of consistent denials to seven locations, ongoing for twenty months up to July 2000 (the time of the interview). The consistently banned locations were in Western Upper Nile and Eastern Equatoria (bordering Uganda). The bans continued for another two years, on the same basis. During the IGAD peace talks, on October 26, 2002, the Sudanese government and the SPLM/A agreed to full humanitarian access and a ceasefire. The principle on which the U.N. operates, that there should be unimpeded access to the beneficiaries wherever located, was violated by the Sudanese government for years in Western Upper Nile and elsewhere.967

One of the areas banned frequently in 2000 was SPLA(Peter Gatdet)-held Mankien, which was bulging at the seams with internally displaced from Mayom, a garrison town still under Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep; both towns are Bul Nuer. Those fleeing Mayom told of retaliation by Paulino Matiep and Sudanese government soldiers following Cmdr. Peter Gatdet’s mutiny (September 1999) and his continued shelling of Mayom. Little aid reached Mankien’s internally displaced or their hard-put hosts until February 2000, when Christian Aid, a non-OLS agency, brought in basic supplies. The agency returned on March 19-21, 2000. But the area was one that remained almost permanently off limits for OLS agencies due to government flight bans and U.N. security worries.968 As a result, those displaced due to the Gatdet/Paar fighting from areas south of Bentiu were forced to flee not just within Western Upper Nile/Unity State, but often much further from their homes, into Bahr El Ghazal, where relief aircraft were not as frequently banned.969

These government bans applied to relief flights, not to road deliveries. The banned locations in Eastern Equatoria were close enough to the Ugandan and Kenyan borders, and the roads were adequate enough, following a U.S. Agency for International Development (U.S.AID) program of road and bridge repair, that overland truck delivery of food and non-food items was feasible (at least during the dry season). Overland trucking also was much more cost effective.970 Attacks by Sudanese government-supported Ugandan rebel troops, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), on relief convoys driving through northern Uganda into southern Sudan were an obstacle to this cheaper form of transport.971

Western Upper Nile/Unity State, however, was another matter. Because of six months of inundation and the consequent lack of all-weather roads (except what the oil companies built in the oil drilling areas), truck access was impossible, and even during the dry season overland transport to the area from Kenya and Uganda was not possible because of the lack of roads, the sudd, toic, rivers and other natural barriers.972 Therefore there is no alternative to air delivery from Kenya and Uganda to most of Western Upper Nile/Unity State south of Bentiu.973

Moreover, even when relief could be delivered by road from Khartoum to Bentiu, food trucked in had to pass by numerous government army bases. In January 2000, authorities in Heglig, the location of a large army base and GNPOC headquarters, detained two truckloads of WFP food (eighty metric tons) en route from El Obeid to Rubkona. They held the commercially contracted trucks for ten days until WFP negotiations with Khartoum authorities secured their release.974

Even after arrival at its village or destination, the food was not always safe from the military or security forces. In March 2000, local pro-government militia forces in Rubkona stole two metric tons of sorghum from a WFP stock of ninety-five metric tons of food intended for the needy.975

While geography, weather, and even amounts of donated food are not within the control of the parties to the conflict, flight bans certainly are. The government of Sudan has been active in banning relief flights to Western Upper Nile/Unity State, but the international aid community has not been diligent enough in addressing this situation. The U.N. Security Council was briefed in early August 2000 about the consistent denials of flight access to Western Upper Nile/Unity State and Eastern Equatoria,976 but the content of that briefing was confidential and no perceptible change resulted for Western Upper Nile/Unity State.

Only after the U.S. Danforth Sudan peace initiative began in September 2001 did the U.S. tackle this problem at higher levels. Even then, aid only started to flow to the Nuba Mountains, previously under total blockade by the government for more than a decade, after tough negotiations. The Danforth team, lead by a top official in U.S. AID, Roger Winter, exerted considerable effort to win humanitarian access for Nuba, the Blue Nile, and southern Sudan. 977 Even then, the plight of those in Western Upper Nile was never resolved despite the access agreement and ceasefire of October 2002.

Before the food supply situation for Western Upper Nile improved, however, it worsened. One humanitarian worker noted another problem: funding. The U.N. Consolidated Inter-Agency Request for Sudan for 2000 was so undersubscribed by the (mostly governmental) international donors that there were serious shortages of food compared to assessed need. As a result many needy did not receive any assistance. By 2002, human suffering at government and rebel hands had increased.

Following its targeted bombing of a relief site at Bieh, Western Upper Nile/Unity State, killing twenty-four on and after February 20, 2002, the Sudanese government on March 1 perversely raised the number of areas to which relief agency access was banned: it increased the number of off-limits locations from twenty six to forty five. It blocked access to the hardest-hit areas in the Western Upper Nile/Unity State oilfields for another four months, then permitted only a short window of assessment from June 21-26, 2002.978

An OLS assessment team’s look at the condition of the civilian population confirmed that it was bad in Western Upper Nile/Unity State, and it was getting worse due to the conflict and flight bans.

Estimates of the numbers affected by the fighting and insecurity range between 150,000 – 300,000. However, lack of access has made it all but impossible to verify the numbers . . . . [Western Upper Nile/Unity State] has suffered constant insecurity and the people have suffered multiple displacements in the last few years, with each displacement leading to a progressive loss of assets and the breakdown of normal coping mechanisms as families are separated. The 2002 Annual Needs Assessment (ANA), undertaken during September-November 2001, indicated that up to 50% of the population in Leech State and up to 100% in Ruweng County would face food deficits during the coming year. Denial of access has compounded this problem.979

In Ruweng County, the assessment team found that “more than 1 in 4 children [were] malnourished. Children were visibly wasted.” One hundred percent of the population was in need of food and non-food relief.980 It would be hard to image a bleaker report.

Rebel Manipulation of Relief

International relief is a political asset in poverty-stricken and war-wasted southern Sudan. Commanders, SRRA, and RASS like to claim that their rebel group is responsible for bringing material assistance to the people (from the international community), hoping to garner popular support and coincidentally to provide more goods subject to rebel “taxation” or outright diversion.

That they are accountable only for “their” controlled territory may be somewhat logical from an administrative and military point of view, but in 2000, with the Nuer community split three or more ways militarily and politically, many Nuer groups were left with no “counterpart” relief agency to speak for their needs. RASS did not cover Nuer areas not under Riek Machar’s control. Even then, Nuer in SPLM/A (SPDF and RASS) areas were not adequately served by the SRRA for a variety of reasons. This situation was not greatly changed by the humanitarian access agreement of October 2002. Ceasefire violations by various parties in government militia areas of Western and Eastern Upper Nile resulted in government access denials for “security” reasons, and the groups allied with the government were ineffective at reversing the situation. 981

In early 2000, however, RASS—the Riek Machar relief arm — began to serve an additional purpose: creating the appearance of Riek Machar’s military control of large areas of Nuerland after his resignation from the government in January 2000. Often RASS was the only operation on the ground that had a radio (for coordination of relief) and could communicate, leaving those without such equipment unable to assert their existence to the outside world.

For relief officials, the acid test for determining which rebel faction controlled any location in southern Sudan became not what RASS and the SPDF claimed. It was whether the RASS coordinator would travel from the U.N. base camp at Lokichokkio in Kenya to the SPDF/Riek Machar location in southern Sudan. Relief protocol required a “local counterpart,” such as SRRA or RASS, to accompany every flight in order to pave the way on the ground. But RASS personnel did not dare land in non-Riek Machar territory, for fear of their lives. As one U.N. official observed, “You don’t know if Riek Machar really controls the area until the RASS coordinator shows up on the airstrip ready to go.”982

Using the relief structure for military-political purposes, however, tended to slow down and mislead relief officials about the needs on the ground and access. It gave the government more reason to want to kill the entire program.

The SPLM/A also tried to control international relief for its own benefit in ways that hurt civilians. In 1998, the SPLM/A had tried after the Bahr El Ghazal famine to impose more controls on international relief agencies through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to be signed by the SRRA and individual NGOs.983 Negotiations dragged on for a year. Failure to agree on terms led to an SPLM/A-imposed deadline of March 1, 2000 for international NGOs to either sign the MOU or pull out of SPLM/A-controlled areas, where the majority of international aid activity in the south was located. Eleven of the forty NGOs initially rejected the proposed agreement because they believed it could compromise their neutrality and/or the safety of their staff.984 Although the U.S. administration intervened and sought an extension of the SPLM/A MOU deadline from March 1 until the distribution of seeds for the May 2000 planting season, the SPLM/A refused.985

In response to the SPLM/A ultimatum, several international NGOs pulled their staff and operations out of the SPLM/A areas.986 When several NGOs returned and signed the MOU in the course of the year, the SPLM/A touted this, but the status quo was not restored. Several agencies with large programs did not return to their prior activities but began to investigate the possibility of working in non-SPLM/A areas of the south—and in many other countries facing humanitarian crises.987

One NGO that pulled out due to the MOU dispute left behind 450 bags of seeds and other relief items in a warehouse in Thiet, Tonj County, under the SRRA’s custody for distribution to the Nuer displaced from the oilfields and others. Shortly thereafter it was discovered that the warehouse was completely empty. An investigation established that a local SPLA commander looted the warehouse of its entire contents—food and nonfood relief items valued at U.S. $ 500,000—one week after the NGO pulled out.988 In August 2000, U.S. AID, the donor of most of the relief, sent a letter to the SRRA asking it to account for these goods. An SPLA representative told a journalist that the food had been distributed under “community pressure” to the intended beneficiaries,989 but records were not kept and proof was not forthcoming. Many Nuer displaced in the area, among other intended beneficiaries, received nothing.990 The SRRA eventually agreed to provide compensation in kind to the donors.991

Rebel attacks on relief vehicles occurred from time to time, causing disruption in relief. For instance, in January 2000, a CARE truck was captured in broad daylight on the deserted road from Bentiu to Mayom; the SPLA as part of its siege of Mayom had warned people off the road. Two CARE employees were killed and two were captured by the SPLA, then released by Cmdr. Peter Gatdet in March.992 CARE pulled its staff out of Bentiu.

Shelling towns also frightened civilians and caused disruptions in relief distribution. In March 2000, Cmdr. Peter Gatdet’s shelling of Rubkona and Bentiu garrison towns became serious enough to require relocation of WFP staff, hindering relief efforts. But families and villages, however, continued to arrive in Bentiu and Rubkona from nearby locations where fighting was more “intense.”993

The undersubscription of contributions needed to keep the relief effort afloat had sometimes lethal results on the ground. Budget-cutting relief officials allocated smaller amounts to each needy person, but in Equatoria that exacerbated relations between civilians and the SPLM/A, which was accustomed to take its “taxes” directly from relief food.994 The result was that in a period of a year and a half every relief food distribution in Eastern Equatoria was looted or disrupted in disputes between SPLA soldiers and the local population; some civilians were reportedly killed when the SPLA forces opened fire.995 This was compounding one SPLA abuse with another: shooting civilians on top of diverting or “taxing” their relief food.

Undersubscription by donors remained chronic. To add insult to injury, the Sudanese government donated 3,000 tons of foodstuffs to Ethiopia in January 2003 in connection with an Ethiopian agreement to import petroleum from Sudan. The donation was in response to the drought in Ethiopia;996 the bordering areas of southern Sudan suffered from the same drought.



Government oil revenue, which did not exist in 1998, by 2002 was a substantial source of government revenue—almost 45 percent of total revenue. In 2002, the Sudanese government earned more than U.S. $ 800 million in oil revenues. 997

But by 2001 military expenses consumed a whopping 60 percent of this windfall oil revenue. By 2001, military expenditures had risen four times as fast as total expenditures.

In fact, from 1999 to 2001, annual military expenditures—which did not include domestic security expenditures—almost doubled: they rose 43 percent.This was reflected in increasing use of aerial bombardment in the south through the purchase of additional helicopter gunships and other heavy weapons systems. In 2001 Russia exported to Sudan twenty-two armored combat vehicles and twelve attack helicopters.998 In 2002, Russia sold eight amored combat vehicles and four attack helicopters to Sudan, and Belarus sold Sudan fourteen large-caliber artillery systems.999

The impact on the war of the acquisition of just twelve attack helicopters in 2001 was substantial: Sudan owned at most nine attack helicopters in 2000,1000 of which only six were believed to be operational. The oil revenue was used to triple the size of Sudan’s attack helicopter fleet in 2001 alone; in 2002, four more attack helicopters were purchased, increasing Sudan’s attack helicopters from six to twenty-two in two years.

The government also used oil revenue to buy friends in the region and to create a domestic arms industry aspiring to manufacture heavy weapons. Unfortunately, the Sudanese government adopted a position of non-transparency with regard to military expenditures in 2002.

904 All statistics gathered in the south are approximations or educated guesses because of the chaos of war, continual civilian displacement, famine and scarcity, and the skeletal transportation and communications systems. The relief agencies produce, for their operations, estimates of those in need of food or non-food humanitarian assistance. These records, kept in the ordinary course of the relief business, are only reliable as estimates in the absence of better information on population.

905 Email, Aya Shneerson, WFP press officer to Human Rights Watch, December 1, 1999.

906 Of the Nuer displaced from Mankien, an estimated 4,000 went to Maper, Twic County, Bahr El Ghazal, and 13,500 fled to Thiekthou, also in Twic County. Aya Shneerson, email to Human Rights Watch, December 1, 1999. Those who fled Mankien (Bul and Leek Nuer) went to Twic County, Bahr El Ghazal, for protection with Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep’s former commander, Philip Bapiny, who had joined the SPLM/A in October 1998 with his followers. After Cmdr. Philip Bapiny’s defection to the SPLM/A, Maj. Gen.Paulino Matiep became suspicious of Cmdr. Philip Bapiny’s relatives and civilian sympathizers, and reportedly began selective torture, confiscation of property, and detention, leading to mass flight. Christopher M. Kiilu, WFP, “Assessment of Displaced Nuer in Twic county,” internal agency memo, June 30, 1999.

907 These 23,000 were mainly displaced in four different directions: 7,000 to Nyal; 4,000 to Ganyliel, south of Nyal; 1,500 to Pabuong, northwest of Nyal, all in Western Upper Nile/Unity State; and 10,500 to Makuac, Tonj County, Bahr El Ghazal. Aya Shneerson, email to Human Rights Watch, December 1, 1999.

908 The WFP put the number at 3,762 internally displaced in Nyal. WFP, Sudan Bulletin No. 89: May 30-June 5, 1999. There were much larger numbers estimated outside of Nyal. The WFP distributed food for 32,750 beneficiaries in and around Nyal, displaced and needy non-displaced. U.N. OLS (Southern Sector), “Weekly Report: May 31– June 6, 1999,” Nairobi, June 6, 1999.

909 U.N. OLS (Southern Sector), “Weekly Report: May 31– June 6, 1999.”

910 U.N. OLS (Northern and Southern Sectors), “Joint Weekly Report: October 13, 1999,” Nairobi, October 13, 1999. The 30,000 escaped into the garrison towns of Bentiu (16,000), Rubkona (4,830), and Mayom (2,900). There were others in need in the government areas of Pariang (4,770), Tong and Gezira (900), and Dorkhan and Kuersilik (600). Those in Pariang included persons who fled from the government military operations outside of Pariang in May 1999.

911 A breakdown as in 1999 was unavailable for subsequent years.

912 OCHA, Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Sudan 2001, United Nations, p. 11, see

913 In the few days between July 28-31, 2000, “19,000 displaced people, mainly women and children arrived. After several days walking, with the majority having nothing to eat, they are in an alarming nutritional state.” ACF, August 10, 2000, quoted in “Profile of Internal Displacement: Sudan,” compilation of the information available in the Global IDP Database of the Norwegian Refugee Council, as of 13 November, 2000, p. 41; also available at, Geneva, Switzerland.

914 Although figures for internally displaced in Bahr El Ghazal are available and include Nuer displaced, most have not been disaggregated, as far as we know, in a manner that would enable identification of the numbers of displaced Nuer or Dinka who arrived from Western Upper Nile/Unity State in 2000.

915 Email, Judy Kimaru, World Food Program, to Diane DeGuzman, OLS, Lokichokkio, Kenya, February 22, 2001.

916 Lindsey Davis, WFP, email to Human Rights Watch, July 19, 2001.

917 WFP/OLS, “IDPs Southern Sudan Briefing,” March 2002, p. 2. The number of 174,200 displaced individuals is calculated from 55,200 in the Lakes district plus 70 percent (119,000) of the 170,000 in Upper Nile. The report attributed 30 percent of the displaced individuals in Upper Nile to “inter-clan fighting” and 70 percent to “oil mining related fighting,” although that is a distinction without a difference.

918 Ibid., p. 2.

919 Ibid.

920 Ibid., p. 1.

921 Ibid.

922 The government of Sudan has not acceded to Protocol II, which applies to internal armed conflicts. We look to Protocol I, which as of April 2001 had been ratified or acceded to by 150 states, for authoritative guidance to customary international humanitarian law. The Sudanese government has ratified the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, whose common article 3 applies to internal armed conflicts.

923 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2444, adopted by unanimous vote on December 19, 1969, expressly recognized the customary law principle of civilian immunity and its complementary principle requiring the warring parties to distinguish civilians from combatants at all times. U.N. General Assembly, Respect for Human Rights in Armed Conflicts, United Nations Resolution 2444, G.A. Res. 2444, 23 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 18), p. 164, U.N. Doc. A/7433 (New York: U.N., 1968).

924 Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), art. 52 ((2); International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Commentary on the Additional Protocols of 8 June 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 (Geneva: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1987), p. 1472.

925 Ibid.

926 See, for example, J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collins, Requiem for the Sudan: War, Drought, and Disaster Relief on the Nile (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1995); Keen, Benefits of Famine; Ataul Karim, Mark Duffield, et al., OLS, Operation Lifeline Sudan: A Review (Nairobi: OLS, July 1996); African Rights, Food and Power in Sudan: A Critique of Humanitariansm (London: African Rights, May 1997).

927 Government of Sudan, Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement, and U.N. OLS, “Agreement on the Implementation of Principles Governing the Protection and Provision of Humanitarian Assistance to War Affected Civilian Populations,” Geneva, December 15, 1999. This forum for this agreement is the Technical Committee on Humanitarian Assistance (TCHA) in Rome.

928 Protocol I, art. 52 (2).

929 While capture of oilfields might be a legitimate military objective if the purpose is to deny fuel for military vehicles or revenue to the enemy, that rationale is scarcely applicable for attacks on these rebels. The SPLA is in no position to make use of any of the oil production in Upper Nile, lacking refinery and transport facilities; oil is a natural resource demanding a much larger investment to be of economic utility than diamonds, for instance. The SPLA itself remains a legitimate military target, of course, whether it occupies oil infrastructure or not.

930 David Carnahan, Protecting Civilians under the Draft Geneva Protocol: A Preliminary Inquiry, 18 Air Force Law Review 1976, pp. 47-48, citing Report of the U.S. Agent, 6 Papers relating to the Treaty of Washington, 1874, pp. 52-57; see Bothe, Michael, Karl Josef Partsch, and Waldemar A. Solf, New Rules for Victims of Armed Conflicts (Geneva: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers: 1982), p. 324, fn. 15.

931 There are nongovernmental relief agencies operating outside the OLS umbrella. No agency, inside or outside of OLS, could play a consistent role in Western Upper Nile/Unity State from 1998 to date due to fighting.

932 The southern sector of OLS initially served only areas controlled by rebels in southern Sudan. After Riek Machar signed the Political Charter with the government in 1996, relief to “his” areas in the south continued to be administered as before, through the southern sector of OLS.

Some relief personnel believed that, since Riek Machar had signed a peace agreement with the government of Sudan, he should look to the northern sector based in Khartoum rather than to the southern sector for the relief needs of his areas. Other relief officials argued that the OLS office in Khartoum would not provide even a fraction of the meager assistance these southerners were receiving through the southern sector because of well-known government interference, and therefore the communities concerned were better off with assistance via the southern sector. Their view was that their humanitarian obligations to the needy individuals overrode the political affiliation of whatever authority controlled an area, even if the authority was in alliance with the government.

The relief association created by Riek Machar in 1991, the Relief Association of South Sudan (RASS), kept its name, and the same persons continued as its administrators until the merger of Riek Machar’s forces (by then the SPDF) with the SPLM/A in 2002, after which the two rebel-controlled relief organizations were merged and renamed.

933 During most of the period covered by this report, WFP was the only OLS agency operating from Lokichokkio that had access to the rebel area north of Bentiu in Ruweng County, whose garrison towns (Pariang) were served by CARE from Khartoum and Bentiu with WFP food.

934 Some areas of Upper Nile that had been in the SPLA before the 1991 split, whose commanders did not follow Riek Machar back into the SPLA in 2002, received spotty service from the southern sector OLS because of the high rate of hostage-taking of relief workers by some commanders. OLS northern sector did not completely cover the neglected areas.

935 OLS recognized another rebel relief arm covering the Shilluk area, the Fashoda Relief and Rehabilitation Organization (FRAA) of the Shilluk leader Lam Akol. Shortly thereafter, Akol signed the Khartoum Peace Agreement with the government. OLS has been reluctant to recognize any other rebel relief arm (called “local counterparts”) since then.

936For this period, see UNICEF/OLS—Southern Sector, “Basic Cooperation Agreement between UNICEF/OLS and SPLA/SRRA,” Nairobi, April 16, 1999; UNICEF/OLS—Southern Sector, “Basic Cooperation Agreement between UNICEF/OLS and SSIM/RASS,” Nairobi, March 1999. Pursuant to these contracts, the SRRA received U.S. $ 1,783,494 and RASS received U.S. $ 949,754, each to be allocated by UNICEF and subject to the availability of donor funding. These funds were for offices and staff salaries.

937 Former commanders and combatants made up most of the SRRA and RASS staff. In turn they suggested local hires, often demobilized rebels, to NGOs, for positions as drivers and other local employees needed to carry out relief work.

938 As of the writing of this report, it is too early to say whether the agreement is being honored.

939 Human Rights Watch, Famine in Sudan, p. 89.

940 U.N. OLS (Northern Sector), “Weekly Report: June 30, 1999,” Khartoum, June 30, 1999.

941 WFP press release, “Government Ban Threatens Food-Deprived Area,” July 14, 1999.

942 U.N. OLS (Southern Sector), “Weekly Report: 5 July-11 July, 1999,” Nairobi, July 11, 1999. The tactic of attacking relief airstrips immediately after supplies had been delivered was used by both Riek Machar’s forces in the Hunger Triangle in 1993 and by Kerubino’s forces near Gogrial in the late 1990s. Both had U.N. radios with which to monitor deliveries and time attacks. D.H. Johnson, email, April 30, 2001.

943 WFP, “Sudan Bulletin No. 94: July 4-10, 1999,” Rome, July 26, 1999.

944 See WFP press release, “WFP fears worsening humanitarian crisis for thousands of Sudanese as flight ban compounds access problems,” Nairobi, July 27, 1999.

945 U.N. OLS (Southern Sector), “Weekly Report: July 12-18, 1999,” Nairobi, July 22, 1999.

946 The sudd, the Nile, rains, and seasonal flooding were considered to impose natural barriers to any land invasion of those two areas. They were also far from any Sudanese government or militia ally location and therefore safe from their land attack. Those were among the reasons that the displaced sought refuge there.

947 U.N. OLS (Southern Sector), “Weekly Report: July 12-18, 1999.”

948 “Conflict Prevents Vaccination of 50,000 Sudanese Children,” AFP, Nairobi, July 20, 1999; U.N. OLS (Southern Sector), “Weekly Report: July 5-11, 1999.”

949 WFP, “Sudan Bulletin No. 96: July 18-24, 1999,” Nairobi, July 29, 1999. Because it did not control territory in Western Upper Nile/Unity State until mid-2000, the SPLM/A was not in a position to grant or deny access to this area. Nor did RASS, the Riek Machar relief wing, exercise its right to ban access to this area of Western Upper Nile/Unity State.

950 U.N. OLS (Northern Sector), “Weekly Report: July 14, 1999.”

951 “Flight ban,” AFP, Nairobi, July 27, 1999; WFP press release, “WFP fears worsening humanitarian crisis . . . ,” July 27, 1999.

952 U.N. OLS (Southern Sector), “Weekly Report: July 12-18, 1999.”

953 WFP, “Sudan Bulletin No. 99: August 8-14, 1999,” Nairobi, September 14, 1999. Nyal became the only location in rebel-held Western Upper Nile/Unity State to which WFP was able to deliver food in August 1999: it distributed 205 metric tons of food for 21,750 people. WFP Sudan Bulletin No. 101: August 22-28, 1999, Nairobi, September 14, 1999.

954 U.N. OLS (Northern and Southern Sectors), “Joint Weekly Report: August 18, 1999,” Nairobi, August 18, 1999.

955 U.N. OLS (Northern and Southern Sectors), “Joint Weekly Report: August 25, 1999,” Nairobi, August 25, 1999. During the next week of August, WFP provided food to 3,938 beneficiaries in Rubkona, the first food since June. U.N. OLS (Northern and Southern Sectors), “Joint Weekly Report: September 1, 1999,” Nairobi, September 1, 1999.

956 U.N. OLS (Northern and Southern Sectors), “Joint Weekly Report: September 8, 1999,” Nairobi, September 8, 1999.

957 U.N. OLS, “Operation Lifeline Sudan Weekly Report: November 10, 1999,” Nairobi, November 10, 1999.

958 Alfred Taban, “WFP Warns of Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan,” Reuters, Khartoum, November 24, 1999. The flight locations in Western Upper Nile/Unity State denied by the government for December 1999 were Nhialdiu, Duar, Toy, Ganyliel, Gumriak, Mankien, Ler, and Wicok. Aya Shneerson, email, December 1, 1999.

959 “WFP Warns of Humanitarian Crisis,” November 24, 1999.

960 WFP, “Sudan Bulletin No. 120: 1-15 February 2000,” Rome, February 15, 2000

961 WFP, “Sudan Monthly Overview—February 2000,” Rome, February 29, 2000.

962 Owner of aircraft company serving southern Sudan relief operations, Human Rights Watch interview, Lokichokkio, Kenya, August 3, 2000. This included all types of relief planes in various parts of the south: OLS, non-OLS, and ICRC, which has its own separate agreement and ground rules with the government. In most of the locations, there was no SPLA presence. Anonymous relief worker witness to a bombing, Human Rights Watch interview, Lokichokkio, Kenya, July 28, 2000.

963 Owner of aircraft company serving southern Sudan relief operations, interview, August 3, 2000.

964 Sikander Khan, deputy to Sarhad Sapra, Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for Southern Sudan, OCHA, Human Rights Watch interview, Nairobi, August 11, 2000.

965 These requirements are unrealistic in the context of a complex emergency operation in a large war zone. They give no leeway for the need to replace planes because of broken parts, planes stuck in the mud or diverted on an emergency basis elsewhere, and other practicalities. The requirements resulted in a diminution in access. Diane deGuzman, briefing, May 8, 2001.

966 Sikander Khan, interview, August 11, 2000.

967 Ibid.

968 Makur Kot Dhuor, “Mankien Faces Serious Starvation,” South Sudan Post (Nairobi), March 2000, pp. 2-4. Christian Aid did not operate under the OLS umbrella so could choose to ignore the ban and assume the risk of flying into a forbidden location.

969 See Kenny, “Report of an Investigation in the Town of Mankien.”

970 Human Rights Watch press release, “Sudan Bans All Relief to the South,” New York, September 28, 2002,, (accessed August 18, 2003).

971 Human Rights Watch, “LRA Conflict in Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan, 2002,” Background Briefing, October 2002, (accessed October 31, 2002).

972 There were military and political barriers even where natural barriers were lacking. An enterprising trucker drove from Rumbek, Bahr El Ghazal (SPLA area) to Nyal, Western Upper Nile (Riek Machar SPDF area) during the dry season in early 2001, over the flat terrain where a road used to be, and the SPLA strongly objected. The February 2001 SPLA/Gatdet attack on Nyal came on foot from the direction of Rumbek. The SPLA did not want a road to be developed/used there because it might be used militarily—for instance to facilitate a reverse strike. Relief official, Human Rights Watch interview, Ganyliel, Western Upper Nile, April 5, 2001.

973 Airboat delivery was talked about for years, but never became a mode of transport used for relief deliveries in Western Upper Nile. Rumors abounded about possible oil company use of airboats in Block 5A even after the suspension of oil activities there in January 2002.

974 WFP, “WFP Sudan Monthly Overview—January 2000,” Rome, January 31, 2000. WFP did not state why the trucks were held.

975 WFP, “Sudan Monthly Overview—March 2000,” Rome, March 31, 2000.

976 Sikander Khan, interview, August 11, 2000.

977 Roger Winter had been executive director of the nongovernmental organization U.S. Committee for Refugees for many years before accepting this position in government. In his NGO capacity, he had visited southern Sudan and other African countries many times, and was known to be an advocate for the Sudanese, particularly those most affected by the war, the southerners. He had considerable credibility with key Congressmen. He brought high-level focus on Sudan to U.S. AID, but he was not the only AID executive concerned about Sudan.

978 OLS Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R) Humanitarian Services Co-ordination Unit, “Report on the findings of the assessment missions to WUN [Western Upper Nile] during five day window 21st-26th June 2002,” Lokichokkio, Kenya, July 2002.

979 Ibid.

980 Ibid. The report concluded that “lack of access to drinking water is acute in most locations. Coupled with poor hygiene, loss of assets (animals, shelter and other household items) and limited health facilities, this constitutes ideal conditions for a rapid increase in communicable diseases.”

981 Their requests to OLS (Southern Sector), in addition, met with reluctance because of the long history of these militias taking relief workers hostage. The northern sector was not as experienced at relief delivery in the south as was the southern sector and, in addition, local commanders complained that the northern sector OLS relief was delivered by Muslim proselytizing nongovernmental organizations. As a result the affected populations fell into a relief “black hole.” SSDF commander/relief liaison and OLS officials, Human Rights Watch interviews, Nairobi, May and June 2003.

982 Local commanders frequently arrested Sudanese (even those with or employed by NGOs or the U.N.) traveling to territory that was not “theirs.” This produced many disputes between those commanders and expatriate staff who often refused to leave the location unless the Sudanese traveling with them were released and could leave with them. The expatriates reasonably feared that the local commander might kill or torture their Sudanese “counterpart.” This had a tendency to create and string out a number of hostage situations.

983 This was also an attempt to assert more rebel “governmental” powers vis-a-vis international NGOs (INGOs). The INGOs were in the position in 1999 of being the only foreign presence in the war-torn region and possessing the only visible assets--vehicles, communications equipment, etc., often better equipment than the rebels. The SRRA designed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for these agencies to sign, among other things to tax and permit more SRRA control over INGO assets and operations. One conclusion that can be drawn from reading the MOU is that the relief “industry” is the biggest and only going economic concern in the south. See Volker Riehl, “Who is ruling in South Sudan? The role of NGOs in rebuilding socio-political order,” in Studies on Emergencies and Disaster Relief, Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Uppsala, Sweden, no. 9, 2001.

984 “Ultimatum for Aid Agencies Working in Southern Sudan,” AFP, Nairobi, January 20, 2000; Anthony Morland, “CARE, Other NGOs, Withdraw from South Sudan,” AFP, Nairobi, February 24, 2000; “Sudan Rebels Reject Talks with Expelled NGOs,” Reuters, Nairobi, February 29, 2000; Oxfam press release, “Humanitarian Agencies Call on SRRA to Reopen Negotiations,” Nairobi, March 1, 2000; see Human Rights Watch press release, “Sudan Rebels Leaving Civilians in the Lurch,” New York, March 7, 2000.

985 U.S. officials up to and including Secretary of State Dr. Madeleine Albright called Colonel Garang to ask him to extend the deadline, as did President Moi of Kenya. Colonel Garang refused them all. Meeting between U.S. officials and NGOs, Washington, D.C., March 2000.

986 The SPLM/A did not control the whole south or even the whole rural south. The Riek Machar SPDF controlled some parts of Upper Nile and government militias existed in enclaves around many garrison towns and among ethnic groups alienated from the SPLM/A by its abuses.

987 One INGO resigned from OLS in protest of the fact that OLS should have coordinated and negotiated access across the board for the NGOs with the SPLM/A. Anonymous agency document, August 2000.

988 The fact-finding mission included U.N., NGO, and SRRA officials.

989 Mindy Belz, “Understanding MOUs,” World, vol. 15, no. 49, December 16, 2000.

990 They received no distribution for the months February through May 2000. WFP, “Sudan Monthly Overview—May 2000,” Rome, May 31, 2000, says: “these populations [referring to an estimated 20,000 internally displaced persons in Tonj county fleeing insecurity in Ler] have received no humanitarian assistance since [the NGO] terminated their activities in the county in February.”

991 In 2001 the SPLM/A came to an agreement to deliver more than 300 metric tons of sorghum and maize to the relief authorities as compensation. Relief official, email to Human Rights Watch, February 26, 2001 (anonymity requested).

992 On January 2, 2000, unknown forces intercepted a CARE relief team in a CARE vehicle going from Bentiu to open a health clinic in Mayom. A U.N. security team considered Mayom unsafe in November 1999, but health conditions in Mayom were of concern because it had been cut off for months. Ibrahim Ishag Abaker and Mekki El Ekheir Mekki (whose names suggest Arab origin) were killed. Kwaq Makwaq and Santino Deng, a consultant (names southern), were captured. The group reportedly was last seen alive thirty miles from Bentiu. A search and rescue team located the truck and the body of Mekki on January 5, 2000, along the road to Mayom, and the body of Ibrahim a few miles away. After negotiations, Cmdr. Peter Gatdet released the two surviving CARE workers on March 9. In exchange negotiators promised Cmdr. Peter Gatdet educational material (reportedly not supplied in the quantities requested). Cmdr. Peter Gatdet denied that his troops were responsible for the killing or capture of the CARE team. He said in January 2000 that other SPLA forces moving south from the Nuba mountains through Toy (Bul Nuer) in Western Upper Nile had encountered the CARE truck and turned the two captives over to him. WFP, “Sudan Bulletin No. 112: 7-13 November 1999,” Rome, November 13, 1999; WFP, “WFP Sudan Monthly Overview—January 2000,” Rome, January 31, 2000; CARE press release, “CARE Reports Release of Two Staff Abducted in Sudan,” Atlanta, March 9, 2000; anonymous relief source, Human Rights Watch telephone interview, East Africa, April 12, 2000; “Sudanese Rebels Secure Release of Two Detained CARE Workers,” AFP, Nairobi, March 9, 2000; U.N. security official, Human Rights Watch interviews, July 27 and August 5, 2000.

993 WFP, “Sudan Monthly Overview—March 2000,” Rome, March 31, 2000.

994 This “taxation” occurred despite the rebel’s agreement after the 1998 famine that the SRRA or SPLM/A would not tax relief food.

995 Diane deGuzman, briefing, May 8, 2001.

996 “Ethiopia to import Sudanese oil from 15 January 2003 – Ethiopian envoy,” SUNA, Khartoum, in English, January 13, 2003, from BBC Monitoring Middle East, January 13, 2002.

997 Table 1, below. The official exchange rates of Sudanese dinars to U.S. dollars were as follows: 1999, 256.9; 2000, 257.4; 2001, 261.4; 2002, 261.7. IMF, “Sudan: Final Review Under the 2002 Staff-Monitored Program and the 2003 Program,” IMF Staff Country Report No. 03/273, Washington, D.C., September 2003, Table 3, p. 24.

998 "U.N. Register of Conventional Arms, 2001, Addendum 1," (New York: U.N., September 24, 2002), UN document number A/57/221/Add1.

999 “U. N. Register of Conventional Arms, 2002,” Russia submission, June 23, 2003,; Belarus submission, June 3, 2003, (accessed August 6, 2003).

1000 According to Military Balance 1999-2000 (Oxford, U.K.: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1999), p. 276, Sudan then had four Mi-24Bs and five Mi-35s (export version).

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November 2003