Ethnic Cleansing Displace Thousands In Nile Region

Jan 16, 2003 06:30 PM EST

KHARTOUM - Sudan government has been accused of engaging in ethnic cleansing operations in the vicinity of Talisman and Lundin oil installations in western Upper Nile.

A senior official of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM), Taban Deng Gai, who is currently in the affected area, confirmed that the government launched a six-day offensive in Mayom and Leer counties last December 31, involving approximately1,500 ground troops supported by helicopter gun-ships.

Among the villages reportedly destroyed are, Rubjich,, Rekyoul, Gottong, and Giil, in Leer county. Others are Riak, Wangbith, Lingera, Lowdong, Palwung, Ngopgai and Lare in Mayom county.

Gai says government troops burnt facilities of the World Food Programme, and MSF- Holland in Lare. The most recent attacks took place when the troops attacked villages around the town of Tam.

The SPLM official estimates that thousands of civilians have been displaced from their homes and are now without food and shelter. Local officials are still trying to determine the number of killed, wounded and abducted civilians. Some of the wounded have been evacuated by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Since last June, Gai says, thousands of women and children have been abducted by government soldiers from Western Upper Nile and transferred to government controlled areas.

Last October, U.S. President George W. Bush, condemned the Government of Sudan for acts of genocide, including low-intensity ethnic cleansing and slavery in and around Talisman and Ludin oil concession areas.

Gai appealed to the American government to facilitate the delivery of emergency aid to the displaced, and to condemn publicly, this latest wave of ethnic cleansing.

An American led civil protection monitoring team is in Sudan, but according to Gai, it has not yet responded to requests from the SPLM/A to send investigators to witness the devastation.

The Sudan government has responded to the reports of its Western Upper Nile offensive with a claim that the SPLM/A killed three construction workers between Leer and Bentiu.

A Sudanese diplomat, Mohammed Ahmed Diirdeiry in addition complained that the SPLM/A's protests against cease-fire violations constitute a violation of an agreement that allegedly prohibits both sides from engaging in media campaigns.

By Makur Kot Dhuor