What objective reporting has there been on the role of oil development in generating human destruction and displacement in Upper Nile and other provinces of southern Sudan? In fact, there has for some time now been a considerable amount—for those who will only take the trouble to look. The excellent work of the UN Special Rapporteurs for Sudan (Leonardo Franco, and before him Gaspar Biro) is of particular importance.
Eric Reeves [February 23, 2001]
Northampton, MA 01063
In his most telling report (October 1999), Dr. Franco speaks bluntly and deeply critically of oil development, concentrating his remarks on the Unity and Heglig concession sites of the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company. Some of his most important remarks are excerpted below, and warrant close reading.
The Greater Nile consortium—consisting of Talisman Energy of Canada, the state-owned Petronas of Malaysia, and China National Petroleum Corp.—could not be more clearly implicated in the massive human displacement and destruction to which so much international humanitarian aid is now being devoted. Moreover, it is precisely this aid effort that is so often the target of bombing attacks by the Government of Sudan, also a business partner in the Greater Nile consortium.
The date of Dr. Franco’s report is especially significant. For it makes clear that the scorched-earth “security” enjoyed by Talisman Energy and its partners is no recent phenomenon, but a well-documented reality going back a significant time. Indeed, Dr. Franco establishes clearly that oil-driven human destruction and displacement preceded Talisman Energy’s entry into Sudan. In other words, this was the reality that Talisman chose to accept when it began its operations in Sudan.
The date of the report has also provided ample time for a response by any who think that Dr. Franco’s commentary is inaccurate; there has, of course, been no such demonstration of inaccuracy.
UN Special Rapporteur for Sudan, Leonard Franco:
comments on oil development in western Upper Nile (October 1999):
excerpts from “Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan”
 “The economic, political and strategic implications of the oil issue have seriously compounded and exacerbated the conflict and led to a deterioration of the overall situation of human rights and the respect for humanitarian law, as well as further diminishing the already slim chances for peace.”
 “The oil issue and the extremely volatile situation prevailing in western Upper Nile are clearly at the core of the armed conflict in Sudan and have particularly dire consequences for peace.”
 Reports available to the Special Rapporteur indicate that “long-term efforts by the various Governments of Sudan to protect oil production have included a policy of forcible population displacement in order to clear oil-producing areas and the transportation routes of southern civilians.”
“Human rights observers on the spot were told by survivors of the Ruweng [county] offensive in May  that government bombers, helicopter gunships, tanks and artillery were used against unarmed civilians to clear a 100-kilometer area around the oils fields. Witnesses reported that over 1,000 government soldiers swept through Ruweng county, wreaking human and material destruction, including destroying 17 churches.”
[The Special Rapporteur identifies Ruweng county as “a pocket of western Upper Nile bordering on Heglig”]
“As recently as May 1999, many villages on the eastern edge of Heglig were attacked and burned to the ground by the [Government of Sudan] army.”
 Although the [Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company] concessions in Heglig and Unity are not in the midst of the fighting, most of the military action and increased human rights abuses in the oil-producing areas during 1998 and 1999 have been directly related to the struggle between the Government [of Sudan], working through proxy Nuer militia leader Paulino Matiep, and its southern ally the United Democratic Salvation Front (UDSF), political arm of the South Sudan Defense Forced (SSDF), headed by Dr. Riek Machar, also a Nuer, over which will provide security for the oil operations in Block 5a south of Bentiu. This is crucial since the [Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company] pipeline must be extended to that area in order for production to proceed.”