CIVILIAN BOMBING, OIL EXTRACTION IN SOUTHERN SUDAN
A nexus of ongoing destruction that benefits only Khartoum and its partnering oil companies.
Eric Reeves [February 21, 2001]
Northampton, MA 01063
Yesterday [Feb 20] MEDAIR became the latest humanitarian relief organization to protest Khartoum’s relentless campaign of aerial bombardment of civilian targets and humanitarian relief in southern Sudan (press release attached). The medical relief MEDAIR, which operates in both the north and south of the country, is a member of Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS), the UN consortium of aid organizations trying to avert catastrophe in southern Sudan.
MEDAIR was responding in particular to the recent bombing of their compound in Padak. Eight bombs were dropped on the village in one day, with one bomb landing in the UN’s World Food Program compound, which is adjacent to the MEDAIR compound. This follows a similar report [Jan 22] by the British aid organization Tearfund, which noted the bombing destruction of a medical facility at Paluer on the west bank of the Nile (press release attached).
But theirs are but two of scores of protests to Khartoum, all of which have proved ineffectual in halting or even slowing the regime’s campaign of aerial terror. Indeed, civilian bombings are increasing in number. And reports from the ground in southern Sudan indicate that the bombs being used in these terror attacks are bigger, more powerful, and made with case-hardened metal (which makes the shrapnel from detonation that much more deadly). This represents Khartoum’s oil revenues at work.
There are also credible reports that the Russian Antonov bombers are being flown for Khartoum by Russian pilots; this comes at a time when aid organizations are also reporting increased accuracy in the bombing runs.
But even with improved accuracy, these attacks are still useless for true military purposes; they are still wholly ineffective in attacking opposition forces or materiel. But they are certainly more deadly and terrifying to civilians. And it is civilian terror that is the true goal of the attacks. Khartoum wishes to destroy civil society and civilian morale in the south as a means of weakening the entire region.
In the mind of Khartoum, such destruction is the easiest—if cruelest and most brutal—way of gaining further military control of the oil regions of the south. With a devastated south, Khartoum reasons, there will be nothing left to support military opposition to expanding oil development in Upper Nile province. The Nile River can be militarized, perhaps as far south as Bor (where France’s TotalFinaElf retains concession rights). There is a wealth of evidence that this militarization is well along, at least as far as Adok, some 130 kilometers south of Bentiu (this is the concession area of Lundin Oil of Sweden, and its passive investment partner OMV of Austria). Khartoum’s military forces have also successfully completed a sweep through eastern Upper Nile, through the towns of Ayad, Waat, and onto Akobo near the Ethiopian border.
Military resistance to Khartoum’s onslaught is most intense in Bahr el-Ghazal and western Upper Nile, in the concession areas of the Greater Nile project (Talisman Energy of Canada, Petronas of Malaysia, and China National Petroleum Corp.). As a result, some of the most intense recent bombings have been in areas like Turelai and Panlit, both on the border of Greater Nile project’s concession Block 4.
Finally, it is worth recalling that all the aviation fuel for these bombing attacks is refined in El Obeid, at the 10,000 barrel/day refinery that lies on the pipeline route from the southern oil regions to Port Sudan in the northeast. This is the southernmost refinery in Sudan, and is (not coincidentally) next to the largest military air base south of Khartoum. This crude oil is supplied by Khartoum’s Greater Nile business partners. In other words, these companies are directly supplying the crude oil that is refined into aviation fuel for the Antonovs attacking civilians in the south.
Could there be more obvious complicity?
February 20, 2001
MEDAIR takes stand against bombing of civilians in South Sudan
MEDAIR has sent an official letter of protest to the Sudanese government about the consistent bombing of civilians and NGOs
operating in South Sudan.
MEDAIR and several other humanitarian aid agencies operating in South Sudan, each sent a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs expressing concern over the frequency of serious bombing incidents directly affecting civilians and humanitarian operations in the area. The bombings are carried out by the Sudanese military supposedly against the opposition movement in South Sudan; however, increasingly they seem to target civilians and NGOs.
“Over the last eight months alone”, the letter cites, “there have been
almost 100 bombing incidents, resulting in over 50 civilians dead and well over 200 civilians injured. Schools, health facilities, churches, markets, and NGO compounds have been repeatedly hit”.
The MEDAIR compound was damaged in January of this year after a series of bombings took place in Padak. 8 bombs were dropped on this village in one day and one bomb landed in the World Food Programme (WFP) compound, 13 metres from the MEDAIR compound, causing a fire. Other agencies were also affected, Oxfam workers were forced to abandon their compound and camp in a nearby cattle field as a result of this attack.
However, the greatest damage seemed to be on the morale of the people living in this village. MEDAIR workers said that the
village became a ghost town as the inhabitants were too afraid to
continue their daily activities and took shelter in the bush, only
returning at night. As a result, attendance of the daily clinic declined
greatly and “morale was generally very low”.
The letter reminds the Sudanese Government that, as a signatory to both the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the Security and
Beneficiary protocols, it is obliged “to protect the lives of civilians
not taking part in the conflict and to ensure the safe delivery
of humanitarian assistance.” It asks the Government for assurance that
measures will be taken to avoid breaches of this commitment.
MEDAIR has been a member of the Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) consortium since 1996. This is a consortium of International NGOs formed to help facilitate and coordinate a supportive response to the situation in Sudan. The OLS mandate, signed by the Government of Sudan, the UN and the SPLM, agrees to ensure that aid is given priority and that access to the areas of need is protected.
MEDAIR has endeavoured to respond to the acute and chronic needs
throughout Sudan and has run health projects, water and sanitation projects and food distribution programmes in both the north and south. As well as several projects in South Sudan, it is currently running a health centre in Khartoum, the capital, at the Omdurman el Salaam internally displaced people’s camp, serving some 20,000 people.
Subject: Tearfund reports health clinic destroyed in Sudan bombing
Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2001 10:30:45 -0800
Tearfund [22 Jan 2001]
Tearfund reports health clinic destroyed in Sudan bombing
A health centre supported by Tearfund partner Across in southern Sudan was destroyed when a Sudanese military aircraft dropped nine bombs in the first week of January, it has emerged this week. Early reports say that a Russian-made Antonov plane carried out the attack at 10.30am. No one was on duty in the centre at the time of the attack. The clinic, situated on the west bank of the Nile, is one of 20 small health centers in the region serving 100,000 people. The bombing is the latest in a growing number of attacks on civilian targets over the past year by the Government of Sudan.
The government is engaged in a long-running war with southern opposition groups. Mike Wall, Director of Across, whose staff have had to take cover from aerial bombardment in the past, said of the latest attack: “We are not going to be thwarted by this attack. We will carry
on. Currently we are training 20 maternal child health workers and later this month we start a training program for 90 primary school teachers. This important work with local communities must continue.”
In a separate attack eight days prior to the Paluer bombing, the Cathedral at Lui in southern Sudan was destroyed by up to 10 bombs. The Bishop of the Diocese of Lui, Rt. Rev Bullen A Dolli, a Tearfund partner, appealed for the international community to ‘restrain the Government of the Sudan’ from such actions. He declared that Lui had no military significance and was best known for its religious and educational life. The Bishop also appealed to the Church around the world ‘to pray for the people of the Sudan in their time of need. I believe it is within your power and means to help bring a just and lasting peace to the Sudan.
A spokesperson for Tearfund said that the Diocese of Lui’s community development programs had been severely disrupted by aerial bombings during 2000. “It appears that civilian centers are being disproportionately targeted, as reports say there were no military facilities nearby these targets. The spokesperson continued: “These actions fall foul of the Geneva Convention, which states that civilian populations should not be subjected to threats of violence that spread terror among the civilian population. We hope that efforts will be redoubled by the international community to ensure a negotiated settlement to this long-running humanitarian tragedy.”