|4- Human casualties|
|Scattered fragments of humanity|
Gumriak, Western Upper Nile, South Sudan:
Deep, blackened craters pock the landscape.
"The reasons for the attacks are clear," said Stephen Mabok, a local commissioner. "They want to exploit the oil in this area without fear of local resistance, so they are clearing the area and removing all the people."
The extent of the terror unleashed here is chilling. There had recently been an airdrop of food by the United Nations World Food Program. But the Antonov bombers came hot on the tail of the UN aid, and dropped bombs on the starving people as they tried to get to the food.
All around are the scattered fragments of humanity, families hunkered down on the bare earth among the trees. One or two have crude shelters made from UN food sacks, stitched together with string. Most have nothing.
One woman, wearing a soiled floral dress, just stared aimlessly into the distance. Of nine people killed, one was her sister. As she started talking, her anger, the unquenchable resistance of the Southern Sudanese, flared. She spoke in staccato sentences, jabbing the air with her finger.
"Many died in the attacks. Many more are now dying of starvation and thirst. We know why they came to clear this area - because they want the oil." She all but shouted this last sentence. And then, more subdued: "We need food, clothes, water, just basic things to survive."
"The government forces came first and attacked from the air, using Antonov bombers," said Mr Mabok. "Then came the helicopter gunships. Then the enemy came on the ground and attacked the villages, burning them and seizing women and children."
He listed the names of villages destroyed: "Alog village first, and killed 11 people. Then Dir village and killed nine people. Then Obanye and killed 19." The list went on and on.
All that remained of Jamjang village was a circle of burned huts, wood-and-mud walls reduced to a sad ring of blackened ashes. The acrid smell of smoke still hung in the air. Passing feet kicked up a cloud of fine ash.
One survivor, Michael Manyiel, crouched down on the heap of ashes that had been his home. He wore a bright purple African kaftan. He has gentle eyes and spoke with little bitterness or anger. He and his family escaped alive. He was one of the lucky ones.
"The enemy came out from Pariang and burned the villages, but we had managed to flee the area. I took my family to a safe area, but now there is no food and they are starving. The food the UN brings is not enough. Now they are living under the trees."
Mr Manyiel shows us the village hospital. He worked here as a medic. The four walls are still standing, but the windows are scorched, blackened holes. Inside, knee-deep in ashes, remains of a busy hospital are clearly visible - a discarded shoe here, a broken water bottle there.
"Over all, it must be around
6,000 homes burned, yes, 6,000," the commissioner said.
"And 16 churches. . . . Including the food and everything,
it was all burned. People are now just living in the bush..."
Sudan accounts for the largest number of the world's uprooted people.
More than 4.3 million Sudanese have been forced to flee because of the continuing bloody civil war in the south and east.
One out of every eight refugees and displaced persons in the world are Sudanese.
(U.S. Committee for Refugees
USCR World Refugee Survey
5 - War strategies