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In January 1999, the MSF-Holland civilian hospital with a surgical unit in Kajo-Keijii, Equatoria, was bombed by the government; in all, a total of sixty-six bombs were dropped on the hospital area in 1999, with thirteen hitting the hospital premises. Because of this and other bombings of its medical facilities, in which its staff and patients were eyewitnesses and sometimes victims, MSF undertook a study of bombing in 1999 limited to four counties, Kajo Keijii, Yei, Maridi, and Kapoeta, in Eastern Equatoria. It found that from January 1999-January 2000, in the Kajo Keijii area alone, a total of almost 400 bombs were dropped on the civilian population and civilian structures, killing at least twenty-two persons and injuring fifty-one. There were sixty-four separate bombing incidents recorded, with the number of bombs dropped ranging from one to twenty-four per incident.
The bombings were documented by MSF teams in the four specified counties, and identified separately in an appendix showing date, time, location, number of bombs, and casualties and structures damaged.
MSF concluded that “the bombings are aimed at the civilian population and civilian targets, in particular hospitals and schools” and that there was “a [Sudanese government] policy of terror which provokes new displacements of the population and increases the precariousness of the civilian population.”1075 MSF, which had worked in Eastern Equatoria since 1997, noted a sharp increase in the bombing in 1999 over the bombing in 1998.
Increased Bombing in 2000 The U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) published a study of aerial bombardment targeting civilians in the south and the Nuba Mountains in late 2000. The greater numbers of bombings in 2000 were remarked upon by civilians and relief workers alike. “They’re bombing a lot,” said the country director 1075 MSF, “‘Living under aerial bombardments,’ Report of an investigation in the Province of Equatoria, Southern Soudan,” Geneva, February 2000, p. 3, appendix.
for an organization whose civilian hospital (outside the oil area) was bombed repeatedly in 2000.
“Coincidentally with the opening of the pipeline, all sorts of things are happening.”1076 The USCR calculated that bombing in the south and the Nuba Mountains doubled in 2000 over 1999, 1077 at the same time as the government oil revenue increased.1078 By reviewing records kept by several agencies and the U.N., it estimated that there were 132 aerial bombardment incidents or attacks in 2000.
Another source, based in Nairobi, conservatively charted bombing incidents in the south as they were reported in the months of March and June-December 2000. These bombs hit civilian structures, injuring and killing civilians.1079 Most of the recorded bombs in 2000 struck locations outside of Western Upper Nile/Unity State. But Western Upper Nile/Unity State was the most militarily active area in Sudan overall in 2000, according to the U.N.’s Consolidated Appeal for 2001. It stated, “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.”1080 It is likely that government bombing there was much greater than noted by outsiders as much of the military activity was in areas the relief organizations were forced to abandon because of insecurity.
In any event, the oil revenue secured by those military activities in Western Upper Nile/Unity State was used for government military expenses all over Sudan. Numerous examples indicate that government planes continued to target schools, relief activities, churches, and other civilian sites in the south. A few 1076 Andrew Mayfuth, “Oil money may be funding attacks on Sudanese rebels,” Philadelphia Inquirer, Lui, Sudan, May 7, 2000.
1077 U.S. Committee for Refugees press release, “Bombings of Civilian Targets in Sudan Have Doubled; 132 Confirmed Aerial Attacks This Year,” Washington, D.C., December 12, 2000.
1078 GNPOC delivered oil for export at the new port starting in August 1999 and continuing steadily thereafter.
1079 Starting in June 2000, numbers of bombing incidents were charted monthly by an independent NGO, the Sudan Peace ForumAfrica, in Nairobi. A condensation of its numbers is an appendix to this report.
1080 OCHA, Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal 2001, pp. 11, 142.
of the cases are described here as indications of how the government of Sudan chose to spend some of its oil revenues in the new century.
On February 8, 2000, government bombing killed fourteen children and a twenty-two year old teacher at the Upper Kauda Holy Cross School in the Nuba Mountains. Most of the victims were first graders attending an English lesson under a tree. Eight more bombs hit two villages close to the school shortly thereafter. An amateur video, shot by a visiting Nuba film student minutes after the bombs hit the children, captured the mayhem: children crying and screaming, some of whom threw dust on their heads while others beat their chests to show grief. Still others sat dazed, missing limbs.1081 Many foreign countries condemned the bombing.1082 An official of the Sudanese embassy in Nairobi saw the amateur film and said, “The bombs landed where they are supposed to land.... the bombs landed into a military camp. The SPLA has pulled people into this military camp.”1083 International aid workers, however, said that government aircraft bombed schools and other civilian targets.1084 Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail admitted that the civilians might have been hit unintentionally, but “the area in which the incident occurred is a military operations area where the rebels gather their forces.”1085 The amateur film illustrated and eyewitnesses insisted, however, that the location was a school and not a military camp or operations area.
In 2000, the government deliberately—and repeatedly—targeted a hospital run by the U.S. NGO Samaritan’s Purse, in Lui, Western Equatoria, eighty-five miles northwest of Juba in SPLM/A territory.
1081 Stephen Amin, “Sudan: A civil war turned against school children,” Africanews, Nairobi, issue 47, February 2000; “Sudan school still in shock after fatal air strike,” Reuters, Kaouda, Sudan, February 11, 2000. Stephen Amin took the amateur video.
1082 See, e.g., White House Press Office, “Statement by President Clinton on School Bombings in Sudan,” US Newswire, Washington, D.C., February 14, 2000; “Canadian minister condemns Sudan for ‘intentional’ bombing of targets,” Radio Canada International, Montreal, March 8, 2000.
1083 Stephen Amin, “Sudan School Still in Shock...,” February 11. 2000.
1084 Andrew England, “Witness to Sudan School Bombing Describes Attack,” AP, February 11, 2000.
1085 “Sudan says it may have hit civilians inadvertently,” AFP, Khartoum, February 14, 2000.
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This hospital, known for its tuberculosis clinic, had one of the few X-ray machines in the entire country.
More than one hundred patients were being treated or housed at the hospital when the first bombs hit on March 1, 2000. Planes reportedly dropped twelve bombs, killing several, injuring more than ten, and scaring many tuberculosis patients away.1086 The government bombed the hospital a second time the same week,1087 and then for the third and fourth times on March 22 and 23.1088 Such repeated hits suggest it was no mistake.
In Nimule, an SPLM/A town on the Nile near the Ugandan border, German church officials witnessed
and were nearly injured in the government bombing of a school and church on March 14, 2000:
At 10.00 a.m. a shrapnel bomb exploded less than 200 meters from the [primary] school where more than 1000 students were attending classes. During the following hour 6 attacks were flown and 12 shrapnel bombs dropped. One civilian was killed and eleven were injured, some of them seriously. Several houses were destroyed, the Episcopal church received a direct hit, destroying it completely.1089 It appeared that the windfall oil revenue may have enabled the government of Sudan to afford repairs and operating expenses for its military aircraft. The SPLM/A claimed that the Sudanese government used MIG-23 jet attack aircraft on Mundri in southern Sudan on April 19, 2000, and near relief agency 1086 U.S. Senator William Frist (R-TN), Congressional Record (Senate), March 2, 2000; Samaritan’s Purse press release, “American Charity Hospital, Run by Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse, Bombed by Sudan Government,” Lui, Sudan, March 2, 2000,
www.samaritanspurse.org/index.asp?section=news+room&page=2000/mar/030200.txt (accessed August 18, 2002); “Relief agency:
Sudan bombs compound in southern Sudan,” AP, Nairobi, March 6, 2000. Samaritan’s Purse is run by Franklin Graham, brother of the Rev. Billy Graham.
1087 “Samaritan’s Purse hospital bombed,” Calgary Herald, March 18, 2000.
1088 “More than 25 bombs dropped on southern Sudan during the last week,” AP, Nairobi, March 27, 2000.
1089 Letter, Rev. Eberhard Hitzler, Dr. Wolfgang Heinrich, et al., to Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Nairobi, March 16, 2000.
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compounds in Tali, southern Sudan, on April 16.1090 The government had some six MIG 23s in stock,1091 apparently purchased after being refurbished in China in 1993-1994. It tested them near the time of purchase and delayed their deployment because one crashed.1092 It does not appear that they were deployed again until 2000.1093 The south and the Nuba Mountains do not have the kind of terrain or military infrastructure in which high-altitude bombing by Antonovs would produce a military advantage. The rebel soldiers are usually on the move. In the south and in the Nuba Mountains, buildings of any size are civilian in nature and presumptively immune from military attack under the rules of war, i.e., schools, churches, relief storage tents, and medical units. The same is true of small markets, bore holes for water, and homes and cattle byers with thatched roofs; they are of no legitimate militarily interest unless they house soldiers or war materiel at the time of the attack.
The frequent Sudanese government use of aerial bombardment where there are no rebels or other legitimate military objectives on the ground must lead to the conclusion that it uses aerial bombardment to terrify the civilian population and destroy what little infrastructure and community facilities exist in the south and the Nuba Mountains.
Bombing Condemned, April 2000
1090 SPLM/A Press Release, “Tali Comes Under Another Air Raid as GOS Targets Relief Centers,” Nairobi, April 20, 2000; see Ken Isaacs, spokesman, “Urgent Communication from Samaritan’s Purse Hospital,” Samaritan’s Purse, Boone, North Carolina, April 19, 2000.
1091 Military Balance 1999-2000, p. 276.
1092 Ted Dagne, researcher, Congressional Research Service, Human Rights Watch telephone interview, Washington, D.C., May 4, 2000.
1093 The MIG-23 is known more as an air defense aircraft, but Jane’s showed that it could carry conventional bombs, a variety of rockets, and air-to-surface missiles. Jane's All the World's Aircraft, 1993-94 (London: Jane's Information Group), p. 280.
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Sudanese churches, both in government-controlled and rebel-controlled areas, concluded that oil development should be stopped because it was contributing to the war. As the “shepherds of the population in the Sudan,” the Sudanese church officials, north and south, called upon peace loving people and the international community to take immediate actions to force the withdrawal of the oil companies helping the government of Sudan to confidently pursue the war. They also called for a “no-fly zone” for military aircraft. 1094 Officials of other churches joined the chorus of condemnations. A delegation of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, which visited Sudan from March 20-31, 2000, during that month’s
government bombing campaign, issued a report stating that:
It would seem, the report continued, that in order to enable oil companies from Canada, Malaysia, China, and others to tap the resources unhindered, the government of Sudan was systematically clearing the oil areas of people. “This bodes ill for any efforts at a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” the churchmen added.1096 1094 Statement of the Sudanese Churches on the Oil Factor in the Sudan Conflict, prepared April 12, 2000 (by New Sudan Council of Churches and Sudan Council of Churches), http://www.pcusa.org/pda/sudanoil.htm (accessed June 25, 2001). A no-fly zone is one which military aircraft cannot overfly for any reason without permission of the authority maintaining the zone.
1095 Southern African Catholic Bishops’ conference press statement, “Visit to Sudan by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference,” Pretoria, South Africa, April 10, 2000.
Many relief organizations, U.N. entities, and governments had, by mid-2000, denounced the government’s intensified targeting of civilian relief sites, churches, hospitals, and homes.1097 In Geneva, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights passed a resolution on April 18, 2000, expressing its “deep concern” at the situation in Sudan and calling on the government “[t]o stop immediately the aerial bombardment of the civilian population and civilian objects, including schools and hospitals, which runs counter to fundamental principles of human rights and humanitarian law.”1098 The same day, the president of Sudan announced on national television a halt to air strikes in southern Sudan, except for “self-defense” or “where forces are engaged in combat, and where there is active operation in order to protect civilians.”1099 But despite this announcement, the bombs continued to fall on civilian targets.1100 Curiously, Sudanese President Omar El Bashir called on international agencies—many of which had complained about the bombing—not to “mix with civilians.”1101 It is impossible to assist civilians without “mixing” with them, especially with regard to their nutritional and medical needs.