Shattered Sudan | Drilling for Oil, Hoping for Peace, National Geographic: Five Wounded South Sudanese Rescued By Media Flight in “No-Fly” Zone

Five Wounded South Sudanese Rescued By Media Flight in “No-Fly” Zone

This part of the coverage turned into an aid flight as well as photography.

We were the first aid flight since February 1st.  When I say aid flight I mean that I was trying to get here but since I had an entire airplane for myself I am also carrying 3 tons of corn that I bought for a hundred dollars a ton and medical supplies from MedAir—the only NGO operating in this area.  Since February people have the 3-4,000 people here have only had 25 50 kg bags of maize and 75% of that went to the army.

I’ve made the decision to allow this flight to pick up wounded at Jiech.  They tell me the fighting is over there and guys with gut wounds have been waiting 5 days to be picked up.  I am assured it is safe and Kevin is sending an SRRA commander to make sure it goes smoothly.  But this also means we won’t have room for many of the folks walking here now.  I am proud this charter is also bringing 1.5 ton of food, medical etc… It won’t make much of a dent, but it’s the best I can do.

The very day I flew out of Ruweng County, Khartoum flight denied the entire western upper Nile.  No one will get back in there for a long time.  The pilots for the MIGS they just bought are being trained and they are patrolling further with the 20 gun ships to harass flights that are non-OLS—the SPLA sympathizer/gun runners like the folks who got me in here.

From my journal:

There are hills at the base of Sudan and over toward Ethiopia.  If you look at a topographic map of Sudan it looks like they decided to put the entire wretched desert in one country.  We will fly early tomorrow so I can shoot aerials of these bordering mountains. There is not only the S P L A and N G O S in this war zone, but also the L R A and some autonomous militia.  At 8,000 ft. you are above a AK fire from the valley and they don’t have stingers here.  There is one crazy independent militia up in the mountains that we have to avoid.  We also have to give 10 mi. clearance of any government garrison towns.  These garrison towns dot the landscape all the way up the Nile until you come to Ruweng County.  Ruweng is the last outpost of the SPLA near the established oil area.  It has been designated a no-fly area by Khartoum.  So no NGO’s with aid are coming in here—many people are so desperate they are eating leaves.  This is all based on the strange situation that Khartoum decides flight schedules for relief flights.  The United Nations formed a conglomerate of aid organizations called O.L.S., Operation Lifeline Sudan.  OLS only flies to places Khartoum says it’s safe for them to go—This is as much political as for their safety.  Khartoum is in the business of displacing civilians out of oil field areas.  They like to deny aid flights because it forces people out of the areas where they want to explore for oil.  People have to move be killed by gun ships or starve to death.  

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