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«Human Rights Watch Brussels London New York Washington, D.C. Copyright © 2003 by Human Rights Watch. All rights reserved. Printed in the United ...»

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A chief displaced into Bentiu told the Swedish journalist that his village was burned down by government militias before the road was built, and that the road goes straight through the area that used to be his village. Three other villages had been burned along the road, one of them Dorang, which the journalist was shown on her Lundin tour. “It is not more than a pile of grass and branches on the ground right now, and the village itself is not much more than an army camp,” she wrote, confirming the chief’s testimony. “But under a tree there is a group of young boys wearing bright white shirts with Lundin’s logo,” she noted.747 The Lundin security officer explained to Koblanck that Lundin did not have any control over how its military partners conducted their operations. He said that SSIM (the name used generically for SSDF forces, which he described as the government-loyal militia) and the government army were in charge of security in the whole concession area. According to the security officer, Lundin ““was not allowed to talk to SSIM, for some reason I do not know. As a result we can not know exactly when they are going to attack somewhere, and most often we don’t find out the reason until afterwards.” 748 Halfway down Lundin Oil’s road was the village of Kuach, which the Swedish journalist visited. At one time, Kuach had reportedly been the home of 8,000 residents, but she observed a place that was “mainly just a camp for the SSIM militia. Hundreds of men are sitting in the shade of the trees with their automatic rifles close by. Many of them are just boys.” Next to water wells that Lundin had set up she finally met civilians in Kuach: a few women who walked several hours to fetch water in that village. One 747 Ibid.

748 Richard Ramsey, Lundin security officer, as quoted in ibid.

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said that her village was burned down a month before, forcing her family to live under a tree. When asked who burned it down, three SSIM soldiers quickly interjected that it was the rebels.

The journalist found out that a village “on the map located in the middle of the old road close to Lundin Oil’s road” reportedly had been leveled to the ground. Some claimed that government forces had destroyed the village, while others said that guerrilla forces had burned it down. The journalist’s translator was from that village, which he said was attacked eight months before (September 2000), at the same time that the road was being built. The attackers had abducted his wife and seven-year-old daughter.

In another location, near Lundin’s second drilling location, Jarayan, journalist Koblanck saw that the drilling equipment was being moved to a third location in Thar Jath accompanied by the government soldiers. A local man said that women were raped by the government soldiers at the temporary army base at Jarayan. At her last stop, in Ryer near the third drilling location, Koblanck was told that the civilians there had fled to the small group of yellow huts because of hunger and needed a doctor, which the head of security had reportedly promised on his last visit to bring, but did not. 749 Government-Armed Offensive Leaves Tens of Thousands of Civilians Uprooted, 2000 The situation of the displaced in Bentiu town, on the border between Blocks 1 and 5A, was already acute in early 2000. A December 1999 survey showed Bentiu had a global malnutrition rate of 26.3 percent, and the subgroup of displaced children (coming in from the fighting) had a malnutrition rate of 51 percent.750 Some 2,000 newly displaced persons, most from Ler, arrived in Bentiu during two weeks in 749 Ibid.

750 The major cause of this high rate found among children was “inadequate dietary intake” because “[r]elief food has been erratic over the past 5 months due to insecurity.” Relief food made up 76 percent of the intake of the displaced people. WFP, “WFP Sudan Monthly Overview—January 2000,” Rome, January 31, 2000, p. 10.

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February 2000.751 But renewed fighting limited WFP to rapid interventions, and only 26 percent of its planned distribution target for Bentiu was met in February 2000.752 The ICRC runs a large surgical hospital in Lopiding, Kenya, for Sudanese war wounded and others needing surgical care, including those from Western Upper Nile/Unity State. It announced that renewed fighting in various parts of southern Sudan had brought a heavy influx of wounded into its hospital. By May 2, 2000, the 560-capacity hospital had 646 patients. “This is the largest number of people we have ever had to care for” in Lopiding, said the ICRC Sudan coordinator.753 The July 2000 fighting between pro-government and anti-government Nuer forces left an extensive stretch of territory between Nimne and Nhialdiu burned to the ground and tens of thousands of civilians displaced. By July 28, 2000, thousands of civilians had fled with SPLA Cmdr. Peter Gatdet’s forces as a result of the SPDF Cmdr. Peter Paar and Maj. Gen. Paulino Matiep’s forces’ attack.

Observers in a relief plane flying over the area between Nimne and Nhialdiu (some fifty kilometers or

22.7 miles) saw few people, huts, or cattle, and saw that a wide swathe of land had been burned to the ground as far as the eye could see. Many civilians from the area fled or were driven west and north; many thousands were seen to the west, with their cattle and mats (but no other possessions) camped on the banks of the Jur River (also called the Bahr El Ghazal (Nam) River) flowing north to Wangkei in late July 751 CARE found that eighty percent of the displaced’s households were headed by females, of whom 30 percent were pregnant or nursing; about 20 percent of the displaced were elderly. WFP, “Sudan Bulletin No. 120: 1-15 February 2000,” Rome, February 15, 2000.





752 WFP, “Sudan Bulletin No. 120: 1-15 February 2000,” Rome, February 15, 2000. Rapid interventions by relief officials are limited to only a few hours on the ground for food delivery. Insecurity restricted the presence of WFP staff inside Bentiu “to six hours a day when possible” in February 2000. The price of grains in the market trebled during that month, making food too expensive for most internally displaced persons. WFP, “Sudan Monthly Overview—February 2000,” Rome, February 29, 2000.

753 “Sudan: Huge number of war-wounded,” ICRC News no. 17, Geneva, May 11, 2000.

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2000, during the rainy season. Those who could manage to swim across this swollen river with their cattle did so. Once again, Nhialdiu and its market were burned to the ground.754 There were an astounding number of displaced—up to 60,000—who fled with their cattle into Bentiu, counted by agencies assisting the displaced in the garrison town. Those who fled to the Jur River instead were neither counted nor fed, as the area was deemed too unsafe to assess and the government banned flights in to this SPLM/A-held area.

The fighting continued from Wicok, to Buoth, to Boaw, to Koch during the July-August period. The Peter Paar/Paulino Matiep government forces pushed the Peter Gatdet forces west over the Jur River, leaving only one Peter Gatdet toehold on the east side of the Jur River, in Buoth. Then, after being resupplied by the SPLA, Cmdr. Peter Gatdet proceeded in August and September 2000 to retake much of the area lost to Peter Paar’s government-supplied SPDF forces.

Peter Gatdet’s offensive turned south and took Koch in late September. In the course of capturing the village two experienced health workers, Stephen Gatdet and Paul Tap, were killed by the Peter Gatdet SPLA forces. When the SPLA attacked, the two, unarmed, tried to escape from the clinic, carrying the community medical supplies with them. The SPLA soldiers shot Paul Tap dead, seriously wounded Stephen Gatdet, and stole the medical supplies. Stephen Gatdet died the next day of his wounds, as did the mother of an infant. One man, shot during interrogation, also died that day.755 An assessment by a Sudanese NGO in early November 2000 noted that thousands of civilians from Bul and Leek counties ran to Bahr El Ghazal (Twic County) between July and September 2000, on account 754 John Noble, interview, July 31, 2000.

755 MSF, Violence, Health, and Access to Aid, p. 29. The attack on Koch, which occurred the day after the September 27, 2000, delivery by air of medical and other non-food relief items, was conducted by Peter Gatdet/SPLA commander James Gatluak Gai.

Apparently, these rebels were after the delivered items. Koch is where the Peter Paar forces killed Peter Gatdet troops in December 1999 in a tense standoff (see above). Email, Julie Flint to Human Rights Watch, February 21, 2001, based on field interviews.

270Oil Fuels the War

of this fighting between the Peters. 756 This NGO, Organization for Relief and Community Development (ORCD), with roots in the Bul and Leek Nuer communities, had access to two payams (subcounties) in Bul and Leek areas, and met displaced civilians and community leaders from Jagei and Jikany counties as well. They observed large numbers of displaced people returning to their homes, or what was left of them, months later from Bahr El Ghazal. In many cases such displaced people remained displaced; with nothing left of their homes they migrated to locations where they had a better chance of survival because of relatives, relief airstrips, or fishing.

The ORCD team estimated that the population of the Bul and Leek counties was between 430,000 to 500,000, based on their interviews with community leaders and local authorities.757 The team also observed that there had been extensive burning of homes in the areas visited, and heard reports that other small towns such as Chaang and Boaw were burned down completely.758 There had been schools in the area, but they were reportedly destroyed or burned down in the series of attacks in 2000. Before the war came to this area in 1997, Bul County had more than eighty primary schools, with an estimated number of about 75,000 students, and Leek County had more than sixty primary schools with a scholar population of about 50,000. After the war’s destruction, most of the older boys reportedly joined the rebel forces, willingly or unwillingly, and the girls resorted to marriage due to lack of schools.

The team noticed “conspicuous” numbers of child soldiers with the Peter Gatdet forces during their visit. The local authorities said there was no place else to keep them since there were no schools. They 756 ORCD, “Humanitarian Assessment Mission to Western Upper Nile Region: Bul, Leek, Jagei and Jikany Counties, November 5 by Koang Tut Doh Nairobi, December 12, 2000. ORCD stands for Organization for Relief and Community Development.

757 The estimates were: Bul County: 250,000-300,000; Leek County: 180,000-200,000; Jagei County: 100,000-120,000; and Jikany County: 40,000-60,000, total 570,000- 680,000. Ibid.

758 ORCD, “Humanitarian Assessment Mission to Western Upper Nile Region,” p. 11.

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claimed that they had demobilized four hundred child soldiers in June 2000 but when full-scale conflict resumed in July 2000 they were taken back into the rebel forces.759 To the south, an MSF survey conducted in July 2000 sounded the alarm about malnutrition in the Padeah district of Western Upper Nile/Unity State, near Ler. This nutritional survey, in an extremely isolated and inaccessible area (due to its location between the Nile, swamps, and major tributaries) of 40,000 people, showed a pocket of four villages where the children surveyed suffered from more than 35 percent global malnutrition, and half of those were severely malnourished. It found that the recent armed conflict in Padeah had displaced almost 75 percent of the population, and 95 percent of the

population reported cattle losses, also because of the conflict. The team also discovered that:

there has been virtually no NGO presence since June 1998. Insecurity surrounding the oilfields and Operation Lifeline Sudan’s failure to clear the airstrip, which would open up this isolated area, have led to the lack of NGO access to this civilian population.760 According to MSF, even if the airstrip were cleared, the WFP did not have the food to respond immediately due to an undersubscription by donors. “‘This makes the situation even more tenuous for the populations we are trying to serve.’”761 In such situations, where not just one thing goes wrong but adversities cascade, famine is most likely to occur.

The U.N. noted that the conflict had intensified in this area in 2000, with many needy civilians inaccessible to relief agencies.

While humanitarian needs, in the wake of displacements and human rights violations, are very high, accessibility to populations remains problematic on the grounds of security 759 Ibid.

760 MSF press release, “Doctors Without Borders/MSF Survey: Alarming malnutrition rates in Western Upper Nile, Southern Sudan,” Nairobi/New York, July 6, 2000.

761 Ibid.

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and denial of access. Populations fleeing the conflict are assisted [when they arrive] in Bentiu and Northern Bahr El Ghazal, but cannot be reached in the initial stages of their displacement. 762 As diseases such as tuberculosis and meningitis spread in Western Upper Nile/Unity State, the WFP predicted increasing food shortages for the whole state in 2000 due to a failed harvest and “insecurity.”763 It was worse than that; the U.N. concluded, “During 2000, the main conflict area has been in Unity State (Western Upper Nile) around the oil rich areas, with devastating effects on the populations of these areas.” 764 762 OCHA, Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Sudan 2001, p. 2, see http://www.reliefweb.int/.

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

764 Consolidated Appeal, 2001, p. 11.

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