Home | News    Thursday 2 October 2003

After six years, scars of war still visible in southern Sudan town

separation
increase
decrease
separation
separation

JPEG - 13.6 kb
A southern Sudanese woman and her child prepare an evening meal September 30, 2003, while armed with a Kalashnikov in a homestead in Rumbek, 900 kilometers from Khartoum. Sudan’s People Liberation Army (SPLA) leader John Garang visited the town to update the residents on the progress made in peace talks aimed at ending Africa’s oldest civil war.

By Bogonko Bosire

RUMBEK, South Sudan, Oct 2 (AFP) — Six years after rebels captured Rumbek, the battle scars are still visible in this strategic town, which now serves as a humanitarian coordination centre for war-ravaged southern Sudan.

Buildings in Rumbek, which was recaptured by the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) from government forces in 1997, bare bullet marks while others have gaping holes on the walls or stand half-demolished by mortar shells.

Burned out tanks and amoured personnel carriers litter the town’s dirt roads.

A wrecked Land Rover lay overgrown with vegetation near the UN children’s fund (UNICEF) compound and around the ruins of the vehicle were scattered ammunition casings, wooden boxes and fuel containers.

The local population looted military equipment left behind by fleeing government troops, while SPLA fighters grabbed guns and ammunition, according to a resident.

"This vehicle was taken out by a rapid succession of shells," said an SPLA soldier, who asked not to be named.

Visibly upset, the soldier pointed in the direction of Rumbek Girls High School: "That is where my colleagues were caught by a mortar shell and killed, " he said.

Sudan’s civil war erupted in 1983 when the SPLA took up arms to end domination of the mainly Christian and animist south by the Muslim north. It has since killed more than 1.5 million people and displaced four million others.

But the battle for Rumbek lasted a mere 18 hours one day in May 1997.

Now teenage boys roam the dusty paths armed with assault rifles, despite an SPLA decision several years ago to demobilise child soldiers.

"Most of them have nothing to do now and pose a threat to society," John Riek, a captain the SPLA told AFP.

Riek, who joined the southern rebel movement in 1984 after finishing primary school, said the "ghosts of war still haunt people here in Rumbek."

Since 1983, the battle to control over resources, including oil, has played an increasingly important role in the conflict.

At a former Sudanese army garrison, five kilometres (three miles) from Rumbek, rusty anti-aircraft guns still stood near an airstrip, the paint peeling off and covered with a blue plastic bag.

Children played hide-and-seek in the ruins of the garrison, apparently oblivious to the fact that several government troops were killed as they fled from the area while others were taken prisoner.

Four children, only one of them dressed, played in the bunkers, most of them overgrown with vegetation.

A rusty machinegun mounted on a metal tripod lay in the centre of a homestead facing the airstrip. Just under it were two boxes full of bullets.

"We never trust anybody in this corner of the world. That is why I am guarding the airport," said a barefoot gunner, binoculars hanging from his shoulder.

A UN official said landmines are scattered around Rumbek.

Both the governmenmt and the SPLA on September 24 reached an agreement in the Kenyan town of Naivasha under which they will establish security arrangements, including integrating some of their forces.

Under an agreement reached last year, Khartoum and the rebels decided on a six-year transitional period at the end of which the southern Sudanese would vote for unity or secession.

Talks will continue on the last sticking points of power-sharing and oil resources, as well as disputed regions.

Comments on the Sudan Tribune website must abide by the following rules. Contravention of these rules will lead to the user losing their Sudan Tribune account with immediate effect.

- No inciting violence
- No inappropriate or offensive language
- No racism, tribalism or sectarianism
- No inappropriate or derogatory remarks
- No deviation from the topic of the article
- No advertising, spamming or links
- No incomprehensible comments

Due to the unprecedented amount of racist and offensive language on the site, Sudan Tribune tries to vet all comments on the site.

There is now also a limit of 400 words per comment. If you want to express yourself in more detail than this allows, please e-mail your comment as an article to comment@sudantribune.com

Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 27 February 2017 02:31, by aaa auto spa

    We are running a charity to help people in need in Sudan.
    Please visit us at www.aaaautospa.com for more details.

    repondre message

  • 6 March 2018 22:28, by aaa auto spa

    Hello

    We are providing car detailing Thornhill and provide high quality service to our clients,there is a pending plan to open a charity to help Sudan kids in need, please support us by spreading the good word and submit any suggestion or recommendation to AAA AUTO SPA

    repondre message

Comment on this article



The following ads are provided by Google. SudanTribune has no authority on it.



Sudan Tribune

Promote your Page too

Latest Comments & Analysis


The myth of the new South Sudan revitalized cabinet 2020-03-25 09:04:53 By Zechariah Makuach Maror Before I start my dissertation, I would first want to describe the term "myth". Myth is a commonly-held but false belief, a common misconception; a fictitious or (...)

Generating Wealth, then Sharing It 2020-03-24 12:44:35 By: Alsir Sidahmed It was a mere chance that producing broiler chicken from cages in Wad Ballal village coincided with the time of the Coronavirus hitting Sudan and the world. Producing 25, 000 (...)

Are SMEs the drive chain moving African Economy? 2020-03-24 06:46:20 By Mekki ELMOGRABI If trade and industry are the two most important sectors in the African economy, the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector is a vital domain shared between them. The (...)


MORE






Latest Press Releases


S. Korea supports UN communities building resilience project in Sudan’s Blue Nile 2019-09-09 09:26:41 UNDP Sudan September 5, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - An agreement was signed on 5th of September between the Korean Ambassador, His Excellency. Lee Ki-Seong and Dr. Selva Ramachandran, Resident (...)

Sudanese lawyers and Human rights defenders back calls for civil rule 2019-04-26 10:22:06 Press statement by 55 Sudanese lawyers and Human rights defenders on Sudan Sit-in and Peaceful Protest Khartoum -24/04/2019 We, the undersigned (55) Sudanese lawyers and human rights defenders, (...)

South Sudan’s Lafon youth condemn killings of civilians by Pari community 2019-04-03 21:54:29 Press Statement on the Fighting between Pari/ Pacidi and Lotuko/Lokiri on 24/3/2019 Release by The Lafon County Youth Union: We, the Lafon County Youth Union hereby condemn the atrocities and (...)


MORE

Copyright © 2003-2020 SudanTribune - All rights reserved.