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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Sudan: Recent Documents

Sudan: Recent Documents
Date distributed (ymd): 990327
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: East Africa
Issue Areas: +security/peace+ +US policy focus+ Summary Contents:
This posting contains several recent documents on Sudan, including press releases from Human Rights Watch, Sudan Infonet, and U.S. Committee for Refugees. For more details, and related documents, see the web sites cited below.

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Human Rights Watch

Sudan Famine Could Recur
Militias Must Be Restrained and Cease-fire Extended

Human Rights Watch,
350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor,
New York, NY 10118-3299 USA.
TEL: 1-212-290-4700, FAX: 1-212-736-1300
E-mail:; Web Site Address:

[To subscribe to press releases on Africa from Human Rights Watch, write to <> with the following command in the body of your email message: subscribe hrw-news-africa. If you have questions about the hrw-news-africa list, send email to <>.]

(New York, March 18, 1999) - Human Rights Watch today blamed the warring parties in Sudan's fifteen-year civil war for the country's devastating famine, which killed thousands of people in 1998 and affected more than 2.6 million in a country of about 27 million. Famine threatens to recur in 1999.

The report charges that the government's abusive tactics, and the predatory practices of rebel forces and government-sponsored tribal militia, have turned this famine into a disaster requiring the largest emergency relief operation in the world in 1998, and the largest airlift operation since the Berlin airlift. The government spends about one million dollars a day on the war, roughly the same amount the international community spent on relief at the height of the famine. A cease-fire among the warring parties in the worst-hit famine area of the south, Bahr El Ghazal, has not been strictly enforced and will expire on April 15, 1999.

"If the cease-fire is not extended, the disaster of last year will be repeated in southern Sudan," said Jemera Rone, author of the report and the Sudan researcher for Human Rights Watch. "The tribal militias who looted and burned, and killed and captured so many civilians last year, are not obeying the cease-fire now. They are armed and backed by the government, and it must restrain them." Rone urged the international community to bring all possible pressure to bear on the Sudanese government and rebels to end attacks on civilians and looting of civilian foodstuffs, including cattle.

The 200-page report, "Famine in Sudan, 1998: The Human Rights Causes," urges the warring parties to end looting and attacks on civilians, as well as the diversion of civilian relief aid. It calls on the Sudan government and rebel authorities to punish those guilty of such abuses. And it asks that the international community actively support U.N. human rights monitors for Sudan, either inside the country or on its borders, who would be tasked to promptly inform the world of human rights abuses, especially those that might lead to another famine. Finally, the report calls on the government of Sudan to honor the promise it made to the U.N. Secretary-General in 1998, to provide humanitarian access to rebel areas of the Nuba Mountains which have been besieged for ten years by the government.

Most of the famine victims were in the southern third of the country, where the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) is strongest. The southern Dinka population in Bahr El Ghazal, which is suspected of supporting the rebel cause, has been the worst hit by famine. For years, government counterinsurgency strategy has used army and tribal militia to attack civilians and displace or kill them, looting their cattle and grain, and burning their villages. Some women and children have been abducted for use as domestic slaves. "The famine is over for the time being," said Rone. "But the 'hunger gap' between last year's slim harvest and this year's harvest could last from April to August, or even September. Without international assistance, many people will not make it through the 'gap' -- and if there is fighting again, and the tribal militias are not stopped from killing and looting, the situation will get even worse." Rone noted that the looting of tens of thousands of milk-producing cows in 1998 had made this year's "hunger gap" even worse.

A key turning point in the 1998 famine involved Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, a Dinka warlord who had been armed and supplied for years by the government to attack Dinka villages. Kerubino defected from the government side to the SPLA in January 1998, and tried and failed to capture Wau, the second largest town in the south, and two other government towns. Some 100,000 Dinka and Jur in those towns fled in fear of retaliation, heading straight into a rural area where some 250,000 people were already at risk of famine because of drought and continual raiding. Hundreds of civilians who did not flee Wau were massacred by government forces in the days following the fighting.

Immediately after this exodus, the government placed a ban on all relief flights into Bahr El Ghazal that lasted practically two months, in an attempt to punish the civilian population. The population at risk of starvation climbed to one million. When the ban was finally lifted as a result of international pressure, and relief supplies began to arrive, the SPLA began diverting the relief food for its own soldiers, and local chiefs redistributed relief as well. This, plus continued raids and U.N. logistics problems, drove perhaps 90,000 civilians to government garrison towns in search of relief food; the death rate in those locations shot up. A cease-fire on July 15, 1998 (later extended to April 15, 1999) ended the famine-provoking raids for several months and brought better delivery of relief food. The death toll began to drop, although the food shortage is projected to continue until late 1999. Two factors make the future very uncertain: the re-defection of the mercurial Dinka warlord Kerubino from the SPLA and his negotiations with the government to resume his career as a government militia leader; and renewed raiding by tribal militias in early 1999, as the military supply train to Wau transported them and their horses into Bahr El Ghazal from the north.

Another seriously stricken area was Western Upper Nile, belonging to the southern Nuer tribe. It suffered because two pro-government Nuer forces were fighting each other over political and military control of this territory, where a government-organized international consortium is drilling for oil to be piped north. The government directly armed both sides, one the ex-rebel forces with whom it signed a peace agreement in 1997, and the other the Nuer warlord Paulino Matiep, who undertook scorched earth campaigns, killing, burning, looting, and destroying Nuer villages and meager health and educational structures. As a result, some 150,000 civilians, most of them displaced by the fighting, were at risk, but the U.N. relief operation was unable to reach them because of the unstable military situation. Not coincidentally, the Dinka warlord Kerubino is related by marriage to the Nuer warlord Paulino, who is currently providing Kerubino with safe harbor.

In the SPLA-held areas of the central Nuba Mountains, some 20,000 people at risk were not even included in the U.N.'s relief operations or statistics. The government's strategy in the mountains is to starve civilians into leaving the rebel areas, so it bans all U.N. access to them. Away from the eyes of the international community, the government's army and militia loot or destroy food, and capture civilians for internment in government "peace camps," where abuse and dismal conditions prevail despite international food relief flowing to the government side of the Nuba Mountains. In May 1998 the government promised the U.N. humanitarian access, but as of February 1999 this promise was not honored.

NSCC Dinka-Nuer Press Release #4
13 March 1999
Nairobi, Kenya

Distributed by Sudan Infonet
An Information Service of the Sudan Working Group--USA
Web Site:


NAIROBI: The Dinka-Nuer West Bank Peace and Reconciliation Conference held in Bahr el Ghazal in southern Sudan has resulted in a bold commitment for peace that could have national implications. The Conference, facilitated by the New Sudan Council of Churches, resulted in a peace agreement called the Wunlit Dinka-Nuer Covenant. The Covenant and its Resolutions were signed by more than 300 Dinka and Nuer chiefs, community and church leaders, women and youth. It boldly promises an end to seven and half years of conflict between the Dinka and Nuer people on the West Bank of the Nile and declares a permanent ceasefire with immediate effect. Amnesty is granted for offences prior to 1/1/99, freedom of movement across the lines of conflict is affirmed, and resolutions with far-reaching effects were adopted in a consensus style of decision making.

The Conference was opened with the sacrificing of a large White Bull, traditional spiritual leaders of both peoples calling for an end to the conflict, and the warning that any who violate this Covenant will go the way of the White Bull. Christian church leaders conducted daily prayers and the final Covenant was sealed both in Christian worship and in traditional sacrifice of another bull, dancing and festivities.

Resolutions addressed in detail issues such as:

  • Missing persons and Marriages of Abductees: including the identification of people who are missing or were abducted, the issue of marriages, and the return of persons to their families and home areas;
  • Reclaiming the Land and Rebuilding Relationships: including a provisional list of more than 400 villages and settlements that have been abandoned, an encouragement for people to move back home, and the development of shared activities between Dinka and Nuer such as schools, livestock markets, healthcare, etc.

**Institutional Arrangements and Monitoring the Border: including police stations, border courts, appeal processes, radio stations to build communications across the borders, joint policing of the grazing and fishing areas during the dry season, and forming a Peace Council to implement the Resolutions.

**Dealing with those Outside the Peace Process: including invitations to commanders who have continued to fight and must be brought into the peace process; and

**Extending the Peace: including Dinka-Nuer peace on the East Bank of the Nile and spreading the peace to other Nilotic peoples, the peoples of Equatoria, and all the people of South Sudan.

A Rapporteur Team of six members continued after the Wunlit conference to meet in Loki, Kenya to gather the documentation together. The documents are available through Sudan Infonet on its Internet Web Site. The address is:

The full text of the WUNLIT DINKA-NUER COVENANT follows at the end of this Press Release.


William O. Lowrey, Ph.D.

NSCC Dinka-Nuer Peace Facilitator


Dinka-Nuer West Bank Peace and Reconciliation Conference

27 February - 8 March 1999

Wunlit, Bahr el Ghazal, Sudan

Dinka and Nuer Chiefs, church, civil and community leaders, elders, women and youth have met in a peace and reconciliation meeting in Wunlit, Bahr el Ghazal, Sudan under the auspices of the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC). We have established this Covenant of peace and reconciliation and declare an end to seven and a half years of intense conflict.

We the participants hereby make and adopt the following Covenant and pledge ourselves to observe and implement it scrupulously and conscientiously in keeping with the solemn vows of peace, reconciliation and familial co-existence. We initiated our Conference with the sacrifice of the White Bull (Mabior Thon / Tu-bor) and have sealed the Covenant in Christian worship and traditional sacrifice.

We declare the following:

  • All hostile acts shall cease between Dinka and Nuer whether between their respective military forces or armed civilians. A permanent cease-fire is hereby declared between the Dinka and Nuer people with immediate effect.
  • Amnesty is hereby declared for all offences against people and property committed prior to 1/1/99 involving Dinka and Nuer on the West Bank of the Nile River.
  • Freedom of movement is affirmed and inter-communal commerce, trade, development and services are encouraged.
  • Local cross-border agreements and arrangements are encouraged and shall be respected.
  • It is hereby declared that border grazing lands and fishing grounds shall be available immediately as shared resources.
  • Displaced communities are encouraged to return to their original homes and rebuild relationships with their neighbours.
  • The spirit of peace and reconciliation this Covenant represents must be extended to all of southern Sudan.

All Resolutions adopted by the Conference are hereby incorporated into this Covenant. We appeal to the SPLM/A and the UDSF/SSDF to endorse, embrace and assist in implementation of this Covenant and its Resolutions.

We appeal to the International Community to endorse, embrace and assist in implementation of this Covenant and its Resolutions.

Official version: 10th March 1999

U.S. Committee for Refugees Press Release

March 3, 1999
Contact: Jeff Drumtra / Gabrielle Bushman 202-347-3507


To resolve permanently the world's longest uninterrupted civil war, in southern Sudan, the United Nations Security Council should act decisively to schedule a specific date for the people of southern Sudan to vote within three years on their own political independence, the U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) urged today.

"After 15 years of civil war and an estimated 1.9 million war-related deaths-more deaths than in any war since World War II-it is time to implement the one solution to which all parties of the Sudan conflict agree: hold a binding public referendum of political self-determination for the 5 million people of southern Sudan," said Roger Winter, director of the U.S. Committee for Refugees, speaking at a congressional briefing today.

"It is clear that, under current circumstances, no side can win a clear military victory in Sudan's war. Yet the war drags on, causing an average of 5,000 deaths per month. This is unacceptable," Winter said. "All sides have publicly stated that a referendum of political self-determination for the people of southern Sudan is an acceptable solution. So why wait? Schedule a referendum by the year 2001, and make it happen."

The Sudan government agreed during stalled peace negotiations in 1997 to the principle of self-determination for southern Sudanese. The main southern rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), has long supported the right of self-determination. The main opposition political groups in northern Sudan have also endorsed the notion of a referendum in the south. The time has come for decisive U.S. and UN action to help Sudan move toward the obvious solution, USCR stated.

Also at today's briefing, USCR unveiled its new report, Follow the Women and the Cows: Personal Stories of Sudan's Uprooted People, which draws upon the words of southern Sudanese residents to document the human devastation in southern Sudan. The report profiles two-dozen southern Sudanese individuals and families who have been uprooted by their country's war and have suffered constant rounds of famine, slave raids, bombings, and attacks.

"The people of southern Sudan have fled their homes in larger numbers than in any other country on earth-4 million are internally displaced within the country, and 350,000 are refugees in neighboring countries," the report states. "What is happening [in Sudan] certainly qualifies as 'news' by any measure."

The Sudan government's "scorched-earth" military tactics and blockage of international relief aid last year triggered a famine that killed 100,000 or more people, according to one unofficial estimate. A massive international food airlift curtailed the famine late last year, but the health situation remains precarious in 1999. Deadly raids by government-supported militia against villages in the south are on the increase again in recent weeks, threatening to disrupt aid efforts.

Copies of the USCR report, Follow the Women and the Cows: Personal Stories of Sudan's Uprooted People, are available from USCR by phoning Gabrielle Bushman (media) or Raci Say (general public) at 202-347-3507.

Excerpts and current news on Sudan are available at:

The U.S. Committee for Refugees is a nonprofit, humanitarian organization that works for the protection and assistance of refugees, asylum seekers, and displaced people around the world. For more information, see USCR's website (

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.

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