Sudan

Sudan: Report says civilians targeted by gov't and affiliated militias

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NAIROBI, 11 February (IRIN) - Civilians in Western Upper Nile (Wahdah State), southern Sudan, including women and children, have been targeted by the Government of Sudan and allied militia groups in a series of attacks since the new year, a new report has said.
A preliminary report issued on Sunday in Khartoum by the independent Civilian Protection Monitoring Team (CPMT) stated that the attacks had occurred in villages around Mayom, Mankien, Tam and Leel.

Civilian men and boys had been abducted for military purposes, while women and children were taken to government-controlled towns, such as Mankien, Mayom and Bentiu, the report said. Multiple interviews with escaped abductees, both men and women, had revealed that the children had been held captive and the women forced to provide manual labour and sexual services.

Cattle and crops were reportedly looted from villagers and moved to Mankien, Mayom and Bentiu, the report said, while crops and personal possessions had also been looted from Lara.

The CPMT, based in Rumbek and Khartoum, had visited multiple sites in Western Upper Nile (WUN) on several occasions, the report said. The team had been alerted following media reports of attacks close to the oil field all-weather access roads south of Mankien.

Attacks by militias on both sides had been reported in the Koch, Reang, and Mirmir areas along the Bentiu-Adok road in the east of WUN. Villagers had also been reportedly attacked and displaced by government-allied militias, supported by government forces, south of Mankien. "Multiple direct attacks" were reported in Lara, Tam, and Nhialdiou villages.

The US-led CPMT was given its mandate to monitor such attacks by the 31 March 2002 agreement between the government and rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) to protect non-combatant civilians and civil facilities from military attack.

Last week, the government and the SPLM/A committed themselves to "effect the immediate voluntary return" of civilian populations displaced in Western Upper Nile to their homes. A joint communique said the new measure would include those displaced within Western Upper Nile, those displaced from WUN to neighbouring Bahr el Ghazal, and all other civilians who had been displaced since the signing of the 17 October Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a cessation of hostilities.

They also agreed to allow a Verification and Monitoring Team "free access" to travel in and around areas where any complaints were filed by either side, and that any area captured would be "immediately restored" to the party that had control prior to the violation.

[ENDS]

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