Shattered Sudan | Drilling for Oil, Hoping for Peace, National Geographic: Government of Sudan Bombs Ruweng County | Southern Sudan

Government of Sudan Bombs Ruweng County | Southern Sudan

In February, Government of Sudan (GOS) dropped bombs from an Antonov (a Russian plane and one of the largest aircraft ever built), wiping out an entire village and all of the livestock. They target livestock because they know it is the last resource in times of famine. The goal of the GOS is to force southerners from their villages into garrison towns where the people can be controlled. They also kidnap the children.

From the journal:

Gabrielle shows up at 4 AM and says “ is it to ok if we go to the burned village now? “   It is a three-hour walk, mostly in moonlight.  Shadows of soldiers with AK’s or spears pass as we walk and shake all of our hands.  I finally realized I could greet these men in Arabic.  I had forced all these Arabic words out of my head because I thought it was the language of the enemy.  But in the 11 years of peace—since 1956—I guess Dinka and Nuer and other tribes found Arabic the only way to talk to each other.  So I am greeting them “Salom Alokum” which means may the peace of Allah be with you.  And “Inshallah” which means if Allah wills.  This is all very strange.  We arrived at dawn at a scorched piece of earth with thousands of cattle bones.  Five people were killed here and buried so their bones aren’t spread across this savanna.  The government of Sudan bombs livestock because they know people live among the animals and if they kill the animals they kill people as well and the animals are the one last resource for the people.  So more people are forced into government towns and into their refugee ring.  Government of Sudan has no problem bombing civilians to move them out of their oil expansion areas.  Its aid flights don’t come back people will be forced into government towns—now they only have leaves and water lily to eat—But the problem for someone like Benjamin is if he is forced out and tries to get into a government town he will be killed just for being associated with the S R R A relief wing of the rebels.  All of the non-aligned Africans will be welcomed into garrison towns but Benjamin will not and with no flights there is no way out for him. 

Gabrielle shows up and says, “Is it ok if we go to where people are eating leaves?”  Ruweng County is an island surrounded by enemies—now that SPLA and SPDF are joining (SPLA is Dinka and SPDF is Nuer) there is one less threat.  But these are people that have nowhere to go. 

I call Melissa on the sat phone—she’s been in tears over all of this.  I have about 200 flies on my body as I am talking to her—periodically I breathe in and swallow one or two.  I tell her “this is the sound byte for what I’m doing.  I’ve moved 3 tons of food and medical aid into an area the UN is afraid to fly into, where people are starving and only have leaves to eat.  My satellite phone hit her cell phone in Lexington KY where she is in an air-conditioned, cupolaed, chandeliered barn photographing a 72 million dollar racehorse—we couldn’t be in two different worlds.

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