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From rogue to riches

"From rogue to riches" Continued...

Issue: "Bureaucratic burial," June 29, 2002

Despite Sen. Danforth's request that both sides end attacks on civilians, government soldiers are attacking unarmed villages.

In a remote area of eastern Upper Nile, 350 miles north of Kapoeta, government forces carried out a ground attack in early May against thousands of villagers from the predominantly Christian villages of Yawaji, Kawaji, and Dengaji. Armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, soldiers ambushed villagers and set fire to their homes at dawn across an area where the population is estimated to have been between 10,000 and 20,000.

No one, even rebel leaders, knew about the attack until relief workers reached the area nearly a month later and found 300 displaced survivors.

Caroline Cox, a member of the British parliament, who was delivering medical care and supplies in the region with Servant's Heart director Dennis Bennett, estimated the dead from the government attacks "at hundreds and hundreds." Survivors reported that the government forces destroyed all three churches in the area, which had been established in the 1960s by Sudan Interior Mission.

"The villages and surrounding area have been essentially depopulated, and those civilians not killed by the NIF [government forces] have been left with nothing-not even breast milk for their babies," Ms. Cox said in a written report co-authored with Seattle-based Servant's Heart.

Ms. Cox, who has made 28 humanitarian missions to Sudan, told WORLD: "The SPLA is creating civil society in areas under its control while ceasefires are violated by the government with impunity." She said the Danforth proposals will succeed "only depending on how robust the Bush administration is in not tolerating violations."

So far there has been no effective policing of U.S.-led peace efforts. An international monitoring team called for by Sen. Danforth has not been named. Congress approved $10 million for an early-warning system to assist in monitoring Sudan's remote areas, but so far the State Department has allocated none of the money for the system. Instead, survivors of the eastern Upper Nile attacks walked 13 days before they found someone to tell.

Humanitarian workers in the region are increasingly critical of the Danforth approach. They say he based his report only on two trips to the region. Both tours featured the most stable parts of south Sudan, far from displaced camps and war atrocities.

"The overall danger and weakness in the approach going on right now is its attempt to create reality out of fantasy-that the government of Sudan will be an honest broker," said Ken Isaacs, international director of Samaritan's Purse. "History would indicate otherwise."

Mindy Belz
Mindy Belz

Mindy travels to the far corners of the globe as the editor of WORLD and lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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