- 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.
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.
We cannot help asking, what
is the rest of the world thinking about this situation? Is this
country forgotten? Is this war forgotten?
This war started 34 years ago, with
only a short interruption.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our brothers and sisters from South
Sudan manage to find the strength and faith to struggle with
dignity against a cynic and merciless regime.