A call for safe havens against the scorched earth policy by Government of Sudan

News and Press Release
Originally published
Issued by Members of Civil Society organizations and groups in South Sudan
Federation of Sudanese Civil Society Organizations (FOSCO) in this joint statement with New Sudanese Indigenous NGOs Network (NESI) would like to make the following statement on the massacre of civilians at Bieh, Western Upper Nile on February 20th, 2002 and calls for creation of Safe Havens.

FOSCO condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent Government of Sudan (GoS) criminal aerial attack on civilian center of Bieh in which more than 47 people were killed.

The attack on Bieh, Western Upper Nile is one of those GoS cold-blooded murders rarely reported. It happened during daytime on February 20th, 2002 when Government of Sudan helicopter gunships attacked vulnerable civilian population who were receiving food from a team of staff from United Nations World Food Program. The gunships gunners carried out their orders. "The gunship maintained its position right over the WFP compound and started shooting sideways aiming at the tukuls across the compound. Missiles/rockets were used to blow up tukuls after tukuls (with people inside) followed by machine guns aimed at those running for cover" said an international aid worker who survived the incident. Those who were in the tukuls were children, the sick, elderly and disabled people, the more vulnerable, who were waiting for their mothers and sisters to return with food from WFP distribution. Many were killed or wounded by the gunship fire. Usually, population accompanied with dependants would tend, during hunger time, to move closer towards the distribution sites to easily serve their weak.

In this single attack at Bieh the number of people confirmed dead were 12 women, 25 children and 10 men. Tens of thousands of people have been sent on the move fearing daily attacks and the hovering of helicopter gunships and Antonov bombers. Access to them by relief workers is denied by GoS.

Such unwarranted attacks on civilians are taking place now around the clock but most go unreported. The attack on Bieh was relatively widely heard of, because of the presence of international relief workers on the ground at the time of attack. The attack also took place barely a week after another attack on a similar target with WFP distributing food to another group of vulnerable population at Akuem, Bahr el Ghazal Region. In this incident women and children were also killed and score others wounded.

"Since July 2001, Antinove and gunship attacks in Upper Nile have been on the increase. What is more disturbing is that this has been taking place while NGOs are on ground" said another relief worker.

The GOS acts of terrorism, which are aimed at depopulating South Sudan, include denial of humanitarian agencies access to victims of war. UN and non-UN relief flights are either being denied or relief planes are attacked on the ground and/or civilians are bombed or attacked by GOS' Popular Defense Forces (PDF) ridding horses during distribution time.

Efforts by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to broker peace and the recent American Government special envoy of peace in the Sudan are being frustrated by the GoS with continuous changing of tactics in order to execute its war and hunt for oil and land in South Sudan.

Government of Sudan is also using Southern Sudanese militias to facilitate their attacks on the civilian. It is also sad to note that there are some elements among national liberation armies in the Sudanese civil war who have not been clean regarding human rights abuses.

In this regards FOSCO calls upon the United Nations Security Council to create Safe Havens in all areas of Sudan south of parallel 12 to protect the civilian population against the GoS Scorch Earth Policy in New Sudan. We also call upon the oil companies working in Western Upper Nile to cease extraction of oil until peace is achieved in this country. We call also for a UN Security Council Resolution imposing an immediate oil sales embargo until peace has been negotiated in Sudan.

Further more FOSCO urges IGAD members and IGAD Partners Forum (IPF) to restrain the GoS from carrying out its Scorch Earth Policies. We believe that peaceful solution and the end to war in South Sudan could only come through honest and good faith negotiation adopting the settlement that guarantees the right of people of South Sudan to exercise their right to self-determination as stipulated in the Declaration of Principles (DoP) sponsored by the IGAD Peace Initiative. The United Nations in partnership with Africa Union to monitor the referendum in the DoP.

FOSCO calls upon you, the members of international community, through your Parliaments, governments, your civic organizations, and civil society organizations and with prayers; we ask you to ACT NOW! To bring an end to the war in Sudan.

Co-Chair Coordinator

Federation of Sudanese Civil

New Sudanese Indigenous NGOs

Society Organizations (FOSCO)

Network (NESI)