News from Sudan, March 2001
South of Sudan: a frogotten war, a sacrificed people





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I am pleased to let you read this letter from Christian Mailhes who knows well Sudan, this forgotten country with an uncertain future. Thanks to his comments we can take action in favor of this population which is victim of violence. Jacques Gaillot

South of Sudan: a forgotten war, a sacrificed people.  Soudan; le conflit oublié 

Sudan, the greatest country of Africa, five times the size of France, is in civil war since fifty years without concern from the international community. Moslem Arabs essentially populate the North desert and mainly Christians and Animist black Africans populate the relatively rich South with an important minority of Moslem Arabs. The total population is 30 million; six million of them are living in the South. The country became independent in 1956; the Islamic government in Khartoum has progressively tried to control by force the population of the South that is naturally opposed to a fundamentalism regime. South Sudan has not been at peace since, except for a short period of calm when the South got a limited autonomy from 1972 to 1983 after the agreement of Addis Ababa. A military coup in June 1989 brought into power the President Omar Hassan Al Bashir, the regime of which has become more and more fundamentalist. The people of the South refuse to recognize the authority of an Islamic group that brutally imposed its religion, language, culture and laws. It is not an ordinary civil war but a war of resistance against colonization and assimilation of the South by the North. The Bishop of Torit, Mgr. Paride Taban, recently declared: " To avoid any misunderstanding, we want to state that it is not the Moslems who create problems but the fundamentalist government who started the war against the black Africans.
la guerre depuis 34 ans  This war started 34 years ago, with only a short interruption. 
We cannot help asking, what is the rest of the world thinking about this situation? Is this country forgotten? Is this war forgotten?

The South is rich in its human potential and natural resources, however it never undergoes any development: the Karthoun government never offers it this opportunity. War has brought a very low level of living, most things are missing, no currency then no commerce, no electricity, no road, no drinkable water, no media. Teaching and health are minimal.
To those vital shortages one has to add almost daily bombing by the North against purely civil targets: schools, nurseries, villages, markets, food centers, non-governmental organizations offices, airfields in the bush.  victime da la violence 
The media and western governments ignore the bombing and stay silent. By sheer terror the North wants to push this traumatized population to take refuge in the neighboring countries, mainly Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda. Five million of Sudanese are displaced persons who have lost every thing and depend on humanitarian help. Two million people have been killed in the war since 1983. The country is really separated in two: the three main regions of the South - Bahr al Ghazal, Upper Nil and Equatoria - are under the authority of the Movement for Liberation of John Garang, the head of the South opposition, with the exceptions of some big urban centers still held by the governmental army. Bombing of the population have been intensified these last months in the South to reach a daily rhythm since July 2000. Their purpose is to stop access to an economic development to the rebelled population, although there are many Moslems among them. Their aim is to re-conquer the South. The success of the Liberation Army around the oilfields of South Sudan in the spring 2000 has increased the aggressive character of Khartoum.
pétrole pour soutien au terroisme  Sudan has been exporting oil since august 1999, this has allowed the internationally banned government of Khartoum to benefit from more respect among the other nations of the world in spite of its support for the international terrorism. 
The important oil reserves, at least equivalent to those of Saudi Arabia, according to the experts, are located in the South around Bentiu. The Khartoum junta has built a pipeline of 1 600 km long with a debit of 200 000 barrels a day with the help of Chinese convicts. It links the oil fields to Port Sudan. The Khartoum government has proclaimed that the oil revenue will be used to continue the Jihad (Holy war) and to surrender the "Infidels" of the South. Khartoum is spending more than a million US dollars per day for the war when 90% of the population in the North is living under the threshold of poverty. Instead of using this wealth for developing the south, this money is wasted on weapons to crush and subdue the people living there. The development of the oil companies is only possible if the "security" of the region is enforced. This means for Khartoum a systematic control of the place with the help of the militia of the People Defense Forces and their moudjahiddin, fighters of the " Jihad ". They spread terror, practice a scorched earth policy, destroy villages, kill and expulse people, make slaves of women and children, ransack cattle, burn the crops in order to prevent people to help the Liberation army that intent openly to stop the oil production. Amnesty International, a humanitarian organization, published a detailed report in May 2000. With a great cynicism, the European Union has allocated in December 2000 an aid of 15 millions euros to the Khartoum government for "its progress these last months in favor of the human rights" according to Catherine Boivineau, Head of African affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Paris (AFP, Dec. 7, 2000). This international backing allows this brutal regime to proceed unpunished in the massacre of the civil population. The European union is responsible for not giving assistance to persons in danger of their life. The French government keeps helping the military-Islamic dictatorship from Khartoum for strategic and economic purposes inspite of the systematic violations of human rights in this country.
Among these hardships, these people, forgotten by History, maintain their dignity, keep their identity, and try to survive and to prepare a better future for possible peace. They represent for their country wealth and hope. Their dynamism is wonderful. pour un meilleur avenir 
They are helped by the Christian Churches in a country where there is no efficient State and no Administration. The churches are present among the communities, in the refuge camps to sustain vital needs. They do not limit themselves only to the spiritual needs of these miserable people; they also nourish their hope in a better future on their native land. The temptation to cross the borders is great, they could find food, health care, education and security from bombing in the refuge camps in Kenya or Uganda. The Church is the only structured organization for helping this distressful population. It represents their only hope for those forgotten people by the rest of the world, a "voice for those without a voice". At Easter time, tens of thousands are baptized. Children and adults walked for several days, sometimes at night, through the military front to be baptized, to join those who fight for freedom.
The Catholic Church is still a secure channel for urgent help. Bishops, priests and laymen try to maintain a vital link with the outer world, notably with the NGO, which bring food, health care and education and sponsor developing projects. Bishops and priests travel to Europe and to United States at the invitation of the dioceses or Christians NGO to alert the international opinion and the politicians of this tragedy. They request an action from them against Khartoum to stop the massacres and to let the humanitarian help reach the most isolated parts. Their screams of distress are often lost in all the fuss of the media.
vivre dans la dignité  Our brothers and sisters from South Sudan manage to find the strength and faith to struggle with dignity against a cynic and merciless regime. 
However they need us to emerge them from a general oblivion, to spread the information about their tragedy and to appeal to the politicians. They are also waiting for our active sympathy, without our help their economical development cannot succeed.
C. Mailhes
    To get information about Sudan consult the web site:VIGILANCE SUODAN