|ARMING THE MILITIAS||CHILD
HIRE - SWINDLE AT SAFAHA
During spells of severe famine in the 1980s, many destitute Dinka families loaned or hired their children to richer neighbours out of desperation, because they could not afford to feed them.
This practice has a long history, but when some Dinka children became unpaid labour for Rezeigat families in the Bahr al-Ghazal famine of 1988, the outcome was brutally unbalanced.
Driven from their villages by drought and warfare, Dinka families began searching further afield for the means of survival. On their way to Darfur or Khartoum, they congregated at Safaha, the seasonal meeting place between the Dinka and Rezeigat pastoralists. It has water, plenty of fish and prosperous petty trade. Their arrival attracted the attention of a group of Rezeigat.
A 15-man committee from the Rezeigat community approached the Dinka migrants. A witness named four of them as Doka, Fadl Nabi, Barsham Mohammed Barsham and Musa Berou. They called an assembly to confer with the few surviving Dinka male elders, and asked the Dinka to let their children be hired as herders. Top
The rate they offered was fixed: 500 Sudanese pounds per year, irrespective of the child's age, which could be from 7 to 15 years old. Half of the amount was to be paid immediately, and the balance was to be collected a year later with the child.
The Dinka families had little choice about accepting the offer, since the Rezeigat were armed and could have seized the children by force.
After one year, however, the children were not returned, nor were their parents paid the balance of the hire.
(source: Deborah Scroggins, the Atlanta Constitution / Anti-Slavery International). Top