South Sudan News Agency

Wednesday, Nov 26th, 2014

Last update08:08:31 AM GMT

You are here: Opinion Analyses

People should be cautious in the ongoing rebellion in South Sudan

By Jacob K. Lupai

July 7, 2014 (SSNA) -- The advice for people to be cautious in the ongoing rebellion in South Sudan is not a matter of taking sides. It is rather advisable for people to be objective and realistic in approaching issues that have been unfortunately seen contributing to the rebellion. The advice is especially to those who are enthusiastic about federalism. Those people should not be carried away by the euphoria of federalism. Without a rebellion federalism was coming. Even the hardliners against federalism were softening up. Federalism was therefore gaining ground where it was at first shunned.

Equatorians will always stand up without fear for equality, justice and prosperity for all in South Sudan regardless of ethnic and regional diversities. This is in contrast to the highly pronounced nouns above as lip service since the signing of a comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) on 9 January 2005 that ended the North-South war that lasted 22 years. The lip service had its contributory share in the eruption of the violent conflict on 15 December 2013.

Equatorians and indeed peace loving South Sudanese are advised to take their normal position of high moral ground by not joining blindly the rebellion on the pretext of fighting for federalism. This advice will not make peace loving Equatorians cowards but their perspective of life follows their culture of respect and the love for peaceful co-existence.

People may not like to acknowledge it openly that Equatoria is the anchor. Without Equatoria there may hardly be a viable South Sudan. Equatoria should therefore help to resolve the conflict without taking sides in what seems to be an ethnically charged war for leadership of South Sudan. On ethnic dimensions of the conflict the South Sudan Human Rights Commission Interim Report on South Sudan Internal Conflict December 15, 2013 – March 15, 2014 seems to confirm this. One wouldn’t like to replace hegemony with another abhorrent one.

Federalism cannot be imposed by the use of force. A peaceful environment is needed to assess the viability and relevance of federalism to diversities in South Sudan. Besides war in Equatoria to impose federalism means the people of Equatoria will be killing themselves and dying for no good reason in a senseless war only for the benefit of others. This will be contrary to the perception of Equatoria as the most peaceful. In addition, in the communiqué that followed the Equatoria Conference 2011, Equatoria asserts in clear terms that: “Mindful of the suffering of the people of Equatoria in the past decades, we will no longer accept Equatoria land to be used as a battle ground for any senseless bloodshed”.

Causes of ongoing conflict in South Sudan

The ongoing conflict did not just come out of the blue. There must have been something that triggered it. We may therefore need to be searching for clues that led to the start of the conflict.

For our search we may not need to go that far but to refer to the South Sudan Human Rights Commission Interim Report on South Sudan Internal Conflict December 15, 2013 – March 15, 2014. We may also need to refer to The Truth about the Aborted Coup of Dr. Riek Machar and his group of the 15th December 2013; documented by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (7th January 2014). The two mentioned documents highlight the genesis of the ongoing conflict.

The problem seems to have started when Dr Riek Machar as the Vice President openly expressed his desire to challenge President Salva Kiir Mayardit for the leadership of the ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). The response from President Salva Kiir Mayardit was to make a major cabinet reshuffle, aiming at dropping his Vice President, Dr Riek Machar.

The earlier campaign by Dr Riek Machar against President Salva Kiir Mayardit for the leadership of the SPLM and in addition to the cabinet reshuffle helped to precipitate the ongoing conflict. According to the Government own version, at around 5 pm on the 15th December 2013, a group of uniformed soldiers allied to the former Vice President Dr Riek Machar opened fire at Nyokuron Culture Centre where the SPLM National Liberation Council meeting was taking place.

On the surface the campaign against the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit, the cabinet reshuffle that appeared to be aimed at the removal of the Vice President, Dr Riek Machar and the subsequent gun fire on the 15th December 2013 in Juba seem to have been the causes of the ongoing conflict. However, there seems to be a deep-seated dissatisfaction with service delivery and the style of leadership.    

Unnecessary armed rebellion for federalism

The incident of December 15, 2013 in Juba has become a full blown armed rebellion led by Dr Riek Machar who is citing federalism as one of the reasons for the rebellion. Initially Dr Riek Machar claimed he escaped from Juba for his dear life. Soon thereafter he was the leader of a rebellion, mobilizing to march on Juba with the intention to usurp power by force of arms. To halt the advance of Dr Riek Machar, Uganda intervened while the Intergovernmental Administration and Development (IGAD), the African Union and the UN sprang into action to stop the rebellion turning into something like a destructive wildfire.

The IGAD Communiqué of 25th Extra-Ordinary Summit of South Sudan in part: Urges the Parties to fully comply with and implement Cessation of Hostilities (COH) Agreement and its Implementation Modalities as well as show their political will and commitment to end the war, and take all necessary measures to encourage the Parties to abide by the Agreement; and Reminds the Parties to negotiate in good-faith guided by the spirit of give and take, tolerance and accommodation and respect the politics of zero-sum-game.

In part the IGAD Agreement to Resolve the Crisis in South Sudan Addis Ababa 9 May 2014, the Parties:  Agree that a transitional government of national unity will offer the best chance for the people of South Sudan to take the country forward; and that such a government shall oversee government functions during a transitional period, implement critical reforms as negotiated through the peace process, oversee a permanent constitutional process, and guide the country to new elections; and thus direct our respective representatives to the IGAD-led peace process to negotiate the terms of a transitional government of national unity;

It can be seen that everything possible is being done to usher in an era of peace and stability in South Sudan. The ongoing armed rebellion is neither in the national interest, regional nor in international interest. The sooner the rebellion comes to an end the better for the country that is witnessing senseless loss of innocent lives and wanton destruction of rudimentary infrastructures and property.

In the context of South Sudan the armed rebellion is unnecessary because federalism is already gaining ground among those who were hostile. The armed rebellion is also unnecessary because there is always a peaceful means for regime change through the ballot box instead of senseless bloodshed and fueling of ethnic and regional polarisation.

Ending rebellion in the national interest

The IGAD and AU and the UN are all doing what they can to resolve the crisis in South Sudan. However, the SPLM-in-Opposition may be an obstacle because anything that does not guarantee a regime change may not be of interest to the SPLM-in-Opposition.

In the best national interest and to avoid South Sudan sliding down dangerously as a failed state, what is so special about being elected while elected governors are removed probably without second thought? The people of South Sudan must act in a peaceful manner on how to end the destructive rebellion.

The youth have a crucial role to play. The women, civil societies and the communities in South Sudan must prevail on the youth because they may be vulnerable. The rebellion is basically to effect regime change with no guarantee that there won’t be despotic leadership.

The youth of Equatoria may be especially vulnerable because of the crafting of federalism onto the rebellion agenda. The advice is that originally the rebellion had nothing to do with federalism. It is nothing but a clever way to attract support from Equatoria.

The youth are advised and reminded that the opponents of federalism are now becoming positive and are endorsing federalism as a system of government for South Sudan. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to be done by way of articulating clearly the type of federalism suitable for South Sudan. We need a consensus to move forward. A rebellion for federalism is therefore unnecessary.

In a public lecture on federalism in the history of South Sudan in the University of Juba, the discussants highlighted the relevance of federalism to South Sudan. One discussant used statistics to show the extent to which South Sudanese would prefer federalism to a unitary system. This suggests that South Sudan does not need a rebellion to impose federalism.

A peaceful adoption of federalism is ever possible. The youth are therefore advised that they should better get engaged in a debate on the merits of federalism instead of joining a rebellion with the mistaken belief that they are fighting a just war for federalism. Without a rebellion federalism will find its way into the permanent constitution of South Sudan. There is no time limit to rebellion when the permanent constitution is silent about federalism.

Adoption of federalism solution to South Sudan problem

In a nutshell the problem of South Sudan can be identified as absolute poor service delivery to improve the quality of life of ordinary men and women in terms of equality, justice and prosperity. Some people argue that the priority now is peace and stability. However, before the rebellion was there no peace and stability, and how then wasn’t the problem addressed?

Arguably federalism is the solution to the problem because it will bring peace and stability. This is because those who claimed to have joined the rebellion for federalism would turn their back against the rebellion after realizing federalism was being adopted. The continuation of the rebellion may probably be for something else, for the leadership of South Sudan. However, the IGAD, AU and the UN are involved in the realization of an appropriate solution.


The public lecture on federalism in the history of South Sudan was presented by Professor Douglas H. Johnson, the author of the book, The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars. What specifically captured my attention was when Professor Douglas H. Johnson said, “Kokora is not Federalism”.

In my articles on federalism I have been arguing that federalism is not kokora but I have never been taken seriously. I have even been viciously attacked. Asked why people equate federalism with kokora one discussant answered that it was the fear of the unknown. I am now vindicated and those who were and are fearful of federalism as kokora should now relax and do not need to be full of anxiety.

The next step should be a debate on the type of federalism South Sudan should adopt. I reiterate that we have to build a consensus on the type of federalism suitable to the peculiarities of South Sudan with its ethnic, cultural and regional diversities in fostering national unity. Federalism is not now a taboo but an openly accepted system of governance for a diverse South Sudan.

In conclusion, the question now is not why to adopt a federal system but when should it be adopted and the sooner the better as a solution to volcanic tensions in South Sudan.

The author can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Difference between Equatoria and Riek Machar call for federalism in South Sudan

By Jacob K. Lupai

June 30, 2014 (SSNA) -- Federal states have been in existence for the last two hundred years. Although there was no explicit mention of federation, it was in the Juba Conference 1947 that South Sudanese first voiced their fears of domination and marginalization by Northern Sudanese. In the Conference Southerners basically wanted safeguards that they would not be mistreated by Northerners. It can, therefore, be seen that indirectly Southerners were already calling for a federal system of government that would have guaranteed them equality with their Northern counterparts and also sustainable national unity.  

As Southerners were not well informed and sophisticated enough like the Northern conferees, they were easily manipulated to go along with the concept of one united Sudan without concrete guarantees. They took what Northerners said by word of mouth in the Conference as a guarantee. This is because in the Conference Northerners stressed that they had no intention to dominate the South. However, what the Northerners had stressed turned out to be a white lie or deception. It was to take the South two bitter and devastating liberation wars to get rid of Northern domination and marginalization.

Eight years later from the Juba Conference 1947 Southern members of parliament in Sudan put forward a condition for supporting the motion for independence from British colonial rule. They proposed a federal system of government for Sudan to safeguard the interest of the South. The Northern deceptive response was that the proposal for a federal system would be considered after independence of Sudan. After independence and under no obligation Northerners rejected the federal system for Sudan without any convincing explanation. To add salt to injury Northerners instead drafted a constitution fit for an Arab Islamic State. The Southern call for a federal system of government for Sudan was unceremoniously outlawed. Nevertheless, the Southern response was nothing but an armed struggle for freedom.

The point that is being made here is that the call for a federal system of government in South Sudan is not unique. In 1955 the Southern call for a federal system was to make the unity of Sudan attractive as the basis of sustainable national unity. Unfortunately the dominant Black Arabs of Sudan were arrogant, insensitive and extremely stubborn to their Black African cousins in the South. The Arabs were only to regret when Sudan ultimately disintegrated into North and South with colorful and magnificent celebrations in the South as that was where most of the resources the Arabs had exploited were found.

Federalism in South Sudan

Equatoria, of the three regions of South Sudan, was the first in 2011 to pass a resolution in a conference that: A democratic federal system of governance should be adopted for the Republic of South Sudan, therefore the establishment of the new country as the Federal Republic of South Sudan.

The motive for the call of a federal system of government in South Sudan is not very difficult to comprehend. It is to promote justice where none is above the law in contrast to selective justice, it is for sustainable national unity in contrast to ethno-centricism and it is to promote prosperity for all in contrast to absolute poor service delivery. The call for a federal system of government in South Sudan should be seen as a national agenda instead of being narrowly perceived as an Equatorian plot to segregate others. Federalism is for the benefit of all in South Sudan.

The essence of a federal system is its responsiveness to diversities and in defusing simmering tensions that may tear a country apart. The loud call for a federal system of government may co-relate to people’s experience of absolute poor service delivery. Things may therefore be different when a federal system is adopted.

Riek Machar’s call for federalism

Dr Riek Machar was the second most powerful man as the Vice President until July 2013 in the Government of the Republic of South Sudan. In December 2013 Dr Riek Machar declared openly that he was in rebellion against what he described as dictatorial tendencies of the President. In his rebellion Dr Riek Machar wanted support. Knowing very well that the call for a federal system was popular in Equatoria he wasted no time to make the call for federalism the top item on the agenda of the rebellion.

Dr Riek Machar must have calculated that by crafting federalism onto the agenda of his rebellion he would get automatic and total support from Equatoria. This, however, seems to have created a problem as Equatoria is now perceived sympathetic to the rebellion. A critical analysis is therefore needed of the extent to which Dr Riek Machar’s call for federalism is the same as that of Equatoria. This is in order to allay fears that may cause unnecessary panic and also for people not to get confused.

To begin with Dr Riek Machar’s call for federalism is at best deceptive and at worst a betrayal of the genuine Equatoria’s call for federalism. People must recall that as the Vice President Dr Riek Machar at first supported federalism when the majority of members from Equatoria in the National Legislative Assembly in July 2011 endorsed federalism just before the day of independence. However, at the last hour Dr Riek Machar rejected the very federalism for which he is now calling. People must take it with some caution as to why Dr Riek Machar is now turning around to claim to be the champion of federalism while he was comfortable in rejecting it.

The difference

The difference between Dr Riek Machar’s call for a federal system and that of Equatoria is crystal clear. The Equatoria’s call for a federal system is genuine while that of Dr Riek Machar is a ploy for support from Equatoria. Dr Riek Machar is unreliable and so it is doubtful that he will ever implement a federal system in South Sudan. Did he not let down the people of Equatoria during the crucial vote for either federalism or decentralization in the eve of independence? It is clear that the difference is that Dr Riek Machar sees federalism as a sure way to the presidency while Equatoria sees federalism as a national agenda that does not need the use of force to impose it on the people of South Sudan. Federalism is a revolutionary agenda for the acceleration of socio-economic development for high standards of living in South Sudan.

In the communiqué that followed the Equatoria Conference 2011 it was affirmed that: “Mindful of the suffering of the people of Equatoria in the past decades, we will no longer accept Equatoria land to be used as a battle ground for any senseless bloodshed”. This confirms that Equatoria has nothing to do with the rebellion. Equatoria is peaceful and development oriented. It will therefore not welcome to its soil such a rebellion that has caused untold destruction and mayhem in the country.


It is hoped that there won’t be any confusion again between federalism called for by Dr Riek Machar and that called for by Equatoria. Equatoria had called for federalism before the rebellion. The vision was that federalism would not be imposed but rather would be accepted or adopted through consensus. This means people will need to be educated and convinced through open discussions and debates. People’s fears about federalism must be allayed and federalism must be thoroughly illustrated with examples from around the world. Putting a redline to discussion on federalism is not helpful because people may be forced to discuss it behind closed doors which may be much more dangerous than discussing it openly for people to gain confidence.

In principle it seems many people in South Sudan have no problem with federalism. One prominent revolutionary and architect of the armed struggle that brought independence said in a function that “federalism is not bad but proposed at the wrong time”. The implication is that South Sudanese support federalism but their fears must first be addressed and the time for adoption should be right. When should the time be right is the question. The issue of rebellion and federalism could be addressed concurrently where the states should be involved as important stakeholders. Muzzling free thinking is not helpful in our search for a lasting solution to the problems of South Sudan.

In conclusion, no one appears to be against federalism but the fear seems to be the unseen devil in details of federalism which, therefore, needs our collective effort to reduce the fear for the common good of all.

The author can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

A Familiar Acquiescence follows Khartoum's Bombing of MSF Hospital in South Kordofan (June 16, 2014)

By Eric Reeves

June 25, 2014 (SSNA) -- Nothing on the ground has changed since Khartoum's warplanes struck the hospital of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Frandala, South Kordofan last week.  We don't know the fate of the three people "severely injured," according to the June 17 MSF press release (altogether five were reported injured in and around the hospital).  But we do know that damage was considerable, indeed that MSF declared the hospital was "partially destroyed."  It remains the case that Khartoum's Military Intelligence knows precisely where the hospital is located, as it did before the attack—something stressed in the MSF press release.  MSF evidently believed that apprising Khartoum of their coordinates would deter attack.  Both recent and more distant events call into serious question the wisdom of such an assumption.

MSF is silent on the question of what sort of military aircraft were involved in the attack, but there is an obvious inference: while Antonov aircraft may have been involved, it is certainly the case that at least one more advanced, true military aircraft—with sophisticated targeting equipment—was used.  The MSF press release states: "As bombs struck the village of Farandalla [more commonly Frandala] on June 16, two hit the MSF hospital there."  The chances of an Antonov dropping multiple bombs in such a tight radius are vanishingly small; nor is the damage as reported by a non-MSF source consistent with the barrel bombs used by Antonovs (their explosive impact is relatively low, although they are deadly by virtue of the hail of shrapnel they throw out).  Together, these two features of the attack—the extent of the damage caused by bomb explosions in a substantial compound, and the closeness of the bombs landing within the hospital and surrounding village—indicate that it was carried out by a plane such the Sukhoi-24 air-to-ground attack aircraft used in Khartoum's attack last month on the Mother of Mercy Hospital in Gidel, near Kauda.

It is worth recalling the details of this attack, since Dr. Tom Catena, the surgeon at Mother of Mercy Hospital and an eyewitness, provided such a detailed account of this entirely deliberate attack (see my full analysis of the event, Sudan Tribune, 6 May 2014):

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) attempted to kill Dr. Tom Catena, an American citizen, in Mother of Mercy hospital in Gidel (Catholic Diocese of el-Obeid).  Dr. Catena is sure that he was specifically targeted in the May 1, 2014 attack by virtue of a number of compelling facts:

[1]  He is the only surgeon performing life-saving operations on civilians wounded during Khartoum’s relentless aerial assault on the people of the Nuba Mountains; the Mother of Mercy hospital is the only one in the Nuba mountains, and treats some 150,000 civilians per year; the unmistakable intent on the part of the regime is to block all humanitarian assistance to the people of the Nuba, even if it means attacking a civilian hospital marked with a red cross and far from any active fighting;

[2]  Dr. Catena saw an observation drone over the hospital in the days before the attack;

[3]  The bombing was carried out by a Sukhoi-24 air-to-ground attack aircraft; it is a sophisticated weapon from the arsenal of the former Soviet Union and has a good deal of advanced targeting equipment; and indeed one bomb caused major damage to the facility;

[4]  The following day (May 2, 2014) an Antonov aircraft again attacked Dr. Catena and the Mother of Mercy Hospital; many patients, even seriously injured ones, have fled to the hills, as have many staff, thus diminishing the capacity of the hospital significantly; one person was seriously injured.

(All information here comes by way of an email received from Tom Catena, May 2, 2014; see also, however, the highly detailed account of the attack by Nuba Reports

There can be no real doubt that the bombing of the MSF hospital, also in South Kordofan, followed the same pattern, given the evidence at hand.  Moreover, if we needed any reminder of the inconsequential nature of mere words of "condemnation" or "outrage," declarations that such attacks are "unacceptable" or "deeply disturbing" or "appalling," this bombing surely provides it.  For the same language accompanied the bombing of the Mother of Mercy Hospital on May 1—as it has countless other bombings of hospitals, humanitarian operations, schools, and refugee camps.  Khartoum has become utterly inured to such moral flatulence as proceeds from the European Union, the UN, the AU, and indeed the U.S.

For Khartoum knows that none of these actors takes such bombing attacks seriously enough to work hard enough to halt them; and knowing of this refusal to act, Khartoum's bombings have continued relentlessly.  Recent attacks on civilians and hospitals in South Kordofan (as well as Blue Nile) are a direct reflection of the impunity conferred by previous statements that have been without meaning or specification of consequences for further attacks; unsurprisingly, these attacks are again accelerating (see recent dispatches from Nuba Reports on the intensity of aerial attacks on civilians).  Khartoum simply doesn't take seriously the various international words of condemnation or expressions of perturbation; indeed, the attack on MSF's hospital, an egregious war crime in itself, had been preceded (by four days) by what seemed a distinctly more robust U.S. statement on attacks that had preceded the bombing of MSF's hospital:

The US ambassador to the United Nations accused Sudan Thursday [12 June 2014] of intensifying attacks on civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, and of deliberately bombing schools and hospitals. Samantha Power condemned "in the strongest possible terms" attacks she said were being carried out by the Sudanese government and its rapid support forces against ordinary people. Ground and air attacks have increased since April, with hundreds of barrel bombs and other ordnance dropped on towns and villages, deliberately targeting hospitals and schools, she said. (Agence France-Presse [UN/New York], 13 June 2014) (all emphases in quotations are added unless otherwise indicated)

It is difficult to know whether the attack on the MSF hospital was simply another brutal step in Khartoum's war against the African peoples of South Kordofan and Blue Nile—or an act of extraordinary contempt for any U.S. response, which in the event was little more than a regurgitation of points made in Ambassador Power's UN statement.  In either event, however, the stakes and consequences are high, as the MSF statement stresses:

“Damage to the Farandalla hospital is significant, but MSF will continue to work there,” Moller said. The MSF facility, with both outpatient and inpatient wards, began operating in 2012.  Nearly 65,000 consultations have been carried out since then, along with close to 2,300 admissions. MSF is one of the few health care providers in South Kordofan.  In addition to running the Farandalla facility, MSF supports five health centers in the area.

This was the target Khartoum chose to attack.

A more forthright MSF

The knock-on effect of international acquiescence is that humanitarian organizations everywhere in the Sudans feel themselves in greater danger, and at distinct risk of being attacked from the air.  This did not, however, prevent MSF itself (MSF-Switzerland, or MSF-Sw) from publishing in 2000—fourteen years ago—an account of repeated bombings of the organization's hospital in Kajo Keji (now Central Equatoria).  Responding to the appalling number of hospital bombings throughout Equatoria, where the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) had been largely confined by Khartoum's superior military firepower, MSF-Sw published in February 2000 a remarkable if almost completely unread study: Living under aerial bombardments: Report of an investigation in the Province of Equatoria, Southern Sudan.  The findings of the report should be sobering to those who think that expressions of moral outrage are sufficient to halt the Khartoum regime in its attacks against civilians, schools, hospitals, and any other target that might the support lives of African civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile:

Since the beginning of the year 1999 until this very moment, we [MSF-Sw] have been experiencing and witnessing direct aerial bombings of the hospital, while full of patients, and of the living compound of our medical team (10 bombings in 1999, a total of 66 bombs dropped, with 13 hitting the hospital premises[emphasis in original]. Facing the sharp increase of aerial bombardments in this region during 1999, frequently aimed at civilian structures such as hospitals, in November 1999, we requested an investigation of these events and their consequences for the civilian population in the area.

The elements of this investigation, included in the report herewith, tend to demonstrate that the strategy used by the Sudanese Air Force in this region, is deliberately aimed at targeting civilian structures, causing indiscriminate deaths and injuries, and contributes to a climate of terror among the civilian population.

MSF-Sw also reported:

MSF is particularly worried about the use or alleged use of prohibited weapons (such as cluster bombs and chemical bombs) that have indiscriminate effect. The allegations regarding the use of chemical bombs started on 23 July 1999, when the villages of Lainya and Loka (Yei County) were bombed with chemical products. In a reaction to this event, a group of non-governmental organizations had taken samples on the 30th of July, and on the 7th of August; the United Nations did the same.

Although the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is competent and empowered to carry out such an "investigation of alleged use," it needs an official request made by another State Party. To date, we deplore that OPCW has not received any official request from any State Party to investigate, and that since the UN samples taking, no public statement has been made concerning these samples nor the results of the laboratory tests.

MSF offers several eyewitness accounts of chemical weapons in bombs, including a grim narrative of events in Yei County (now Central Equatoria):

The increase of the bombings on the civilian population and civilian targets in 1999 was accompanied by the use of cluster bombs and weapons containing chemical products. On 23 July 1999, the towns of Lainya and Loka (Yei County) were bombed with chemical products. At the time of this bombing, the usual subsequent results (i.e. shrapnel, destruction to the immediate environment, impact, etc.) did not take place. [Rather], the aftermath of this bombing resulted in a nauseating, thick cloud of smoke, and later symptoms such as children and adults vomiting blood and pregnant women having miscarriages were reported.

These symptoms of the victims leave no doubt as to the nature of the weapons used. Two field staff of the World Food Program (WFP) who went back to Lainya, three days after the bombing, had to be evacuated on the 27th of July. They were suffering of nausea, vomiting, eye and skin burns, loss of balance and headaches.

After this incident, the WFP interrupted its operations in the areaand most of the humanitarian organizations that are members of the Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) had to suspend their activities after the UN had declared the area to be dangerous for its personnel.

There have been repeated reports of chemical weapons use after 1999; not one has been investigated by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons—certainly not at the behest of the United States, which under the Bush administration professed such profound concern for chemical weapons in the hands of Saddam Hussein.

In the body of the report, MSF—which had been working in eastern Equatoria since 1997—finds that their teams have:

…several times been victims and witnesses of these bombings that are only aimed at the civilian population and civilian targets. Hospitals and schools in particular, are deliberately chosen as targets.

The hospital in Yei town—run by the nongovernmental Norwegian People’s Aid and marked with a large and conspicuous red cross on its roof—was also a particular target of Antonov bombing attacks in 1999. Yei was bombed on 15 different occasions during the year, and a total of 138 bombs were dropped.  Ten people were known to have been killed, more were wounded, a number of civilian houses were destroyed, the hospital infrastructure was seriously damaged, and the facilities of two other humanitarian organizations were destroyed or damaged (the UN water facility was targeted in one of these attacks).  A measure of the inaccuracy of the Antonov bombing is the fact that more than half the attacks did not cause casualties or damage, the bombs fell so wide of their targets.  Again, such inaccuracy strongly suggests that the tight bombing radius for the bombing of the MSF hospital in Frandala was created by jet attack aircraft such as the Sukhoi-24, already implicated in the Mother of Mercy Hospital in Gidel.

Although little considered, the data for these attacks are in many cases available.  I provide below links to specific sections of my monograph analyzing aerial attacks throughout greater Sudan ("They Bombed Everything that Moved": Aerial Military Attacks on Civilians and Humanitarians in Sudan, 1999 – 2014

[a]  Introduction and overview, including language from the Rome Statute making abundantly clear that these aerial attacks, in aggregate, constitute crimes against humanity

[b]  Year-by-year synoptic history of aerial attacks throughout greater Sudan, including South Sudan, Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and eastern Sudan.  A number of the bombing attacks on South Sudan occurred after Khartoum had signed the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement:

[c]  Lengthy bibliography (30pp.) of news wire reports of individual incidents that define the history of this grim military strategy:

For those interested in the data spreadsheet and updates recording more than 2,000 confirmed aerial attacks on civilians and humanitarians, see the complete report at:

When will there be an appropriate response to these continuing war crimes, in aggregate crimes against humanity?

I began writing about the bombing of civilians and humanitarians in South Sudan in 1999; several early publications could not have been more explicit about the very same realities we are witnessing now, fifteen years later.  It is the continuity of such savagery that gives Khartoum's bombing campaigns their unique status.

•  “An Ultimatum to Sudan on the Bombing of Civilian Hospitals,” The Ottawa Citizen, October 7, 1999

•  “Ending Schoolyard Violence—In Sudan,” The Catholic New Times (Toronto), April 30, 2000

•  “A UN Seat for Genocide,” The Washington Post, August 15, 2000

The latter piece, read by people with a great deal of power in shaping U.S. foreign policy, included the following summary account:

Nominally Khartoum is the “government” of Sudan. What Khartoum really governs are the country’s military resources—and the choices of civilian targets. Their favorites are undefended villages, schools, hospitals, herds of cattle, refugee centers and emergency feeding stations. One attack on a school in the Nuba region killed 14 young children as they began their English lesson book, “Read With Us."

This air war is without question the cruelest and most destructive military effort by a recognized government anywhere in the world. In this case, not only is the government recognized, it is set to take a seat on the U.N. Security Council this fall. The same body that should even now be issuing the harshest condemnation of Khartoum’s actions will instead be welcoming Sudan’s envoy.

It is important to recognize the terrible ambitions this envoy will represent. For what makes the government’s air war on civilians so destructive is not just the number of people killed and maimed by the shrapnel-loaded bombs. The larger effect of these attacks is terror, and a dispersal of the civilian population. The consequence is much less efficient agricultural production in a land continually stalked by famine.

This is all quite deliberate on Khartoum’s part. Civilian destruction and dispersal are the means of ensuring that the opposition military forces in the south are denied food, or the aid of a cohesive society. It is a crude but terribly effective “weapon of mass destruction.”

To make sure of the genocidal efficacy of the bombing campaign, the Khartoum regime has also escalated its assaults on humanitarian efforts. It is attacking, with much greater frequency, the medical and food relief programs of those trying heroically to save the people of the south from disease and starvation. Many of the hospitals and clinics that have been targeted are run by the world’s finest humanitarian organizations.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is but one example. Its clinic at Chelkou, in one of the most distressed regions of southern Sudan, was deliberately bombed on July 14. Reliable sources confirm that there was no military presence near Chelkou. Moreover, as part of its standard protocol, the ICRC had fully apprised the Khartoum regime of its presence in Chelkou and had secured permission. It was bombed anyway.

On July 25, some 200 miles to the southeast in the village of Billing, the Khartoum regime again bombed the Red Cross. Pilots on the ground, who had an approved flight plan from Khartoum, heard the bombers coming and desperately spread out a large Red Cross flag on the ground. It did no good. The bombs fell anyway.

This is the government that will soon be represented on the U.N. Security Council. It is a disgrace that it has not been criticized in the most direct and forceful way for its barbarous cruelty. It is beyond disgrace and moral conception that it will smugly take its place at the table of the world’s governing body.

Rumbek. Malakon. Akwem. Lui. Kauda. Names that for the most part don’t show up even on detailed maps of Sudan. But all have become targets for a campaign of aerial terror that has as its clear goal creating dislocation and famine among the African populations of the south. The regime in Khartoum, which looks to the Arabic and Muslim world for political and cultural identity—as well as support—is conducting a war that is animated by viciously destructive racism. Its ultimate goal is to destroy as many people as possible who might constitute an obstacle to its domination of vast oil resources inconveniently located in the south.

In the event, outrage at the time was great enough to deny Khartoum a seat on the UN Security Council.  The regime has, however, suffered no serious consequences since this defeat, even for countless attacks as brutal and barbaric as that on the MSF hospital in Frandala, South Kordofan.  All it has to fear are the tepid words that seem to flow so easily from the lips of those with the power—but without the inclination—to bring real pressure to bear on Khartoum to halt these atrocity crimes.

Eric Reeves' new book-length study of greater Sudan (Compromising With Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 - 2012;

More Articles...

Page 10 of 112

Our Mission Statement

To bring the latest, most relevant news and opinions on issues relating to the South Sudan and surrounding regions.

To provide key information to those interested in the South Sudan and its people.