The Abandoned People of the South

The following is an account of a fact-finding mission of International
Christian Concern to southern Sudan that concluded on February 6, 2000. The
ICC team entered southern Sudan through Kaya, Uganda. Traveling by truck,
the team covered more than 500 miles and 50 hours of driving time within
Sudan, traveling to the city of Yei and as far north as Tali. The team
ventured within 25 miles of Juba, which is currently occupied by the
Government of Sudan (GOS). At one point, the ICC team was within five miles
of the GOS forces. The ICC team met with civilian victims of the war,
individuals who had been abducted by the GOS forces, and soldiers fighting
on the front lines. Participants in the fact-finding mission included ICC
president Rev. Steven Snyder, ICC Project Coordinator Pat Bradley, and
Samuel Childers of Shekinah Ministries in Pennsylvania.

Silhouette Number One - The first silhouette begins with a small village
that serves as a military encampment for the rag-tailed Sudanese Peoples
Liberation Army (SPLA) called Wonduruba. The word Wonduruba in the local
southern Sudanese dialect is defined, "to return to a previously inhabited
place that had been abandoned due to a catastrophe." This is an appropriate
name for this village, which once was the home of hundreds of black-African
families who because of the war were forced to flee. Raids and repeated
bombardment by the radical-Muslim backed government of northern Sudan forced
them to abandon their homes They have also been abandoned by the rest of the
world. Wonduruba not only aptly describes one village, but the entire area
of the New Sudan, named by the mostly non-Muslim population of southern
Sudan who are battling for their right to exist - to exist as a free and
independent nation.

More than one million southern Sudanese have been displaced from their
homes. Many live in refugee camps outside as well as inside the borders of
Sudan. According to those interviewed, most of the reported assistance
provided to war-affected civilian populations in the transitional zone and
the displaced camps in northern Sudan (including Kordofa, White Nile State,
and Khartoum) has either been grossly overstated or poorly managed.
Thousands have been lured north by the Government of Sudan (GOS) with
promises of a "better life," only to find themselves in "Peace Camps" where
they have been stripped of all freedoms and live virtually as prisoners of

Young victim wounded from a landmine.
Just days before our arrival in Yei, on January 15th, the city was once
again bombed by the GOS. On this day, seventeen bombs were dropped on the
civilian population. This was just one of numerous missions of carnage that
has resulted in several hundred bombs exploding within a civilian populated
area, causing scores of fatalities, injuries, and destruction of property.
The roar of the airplane engines is the only warning signal, sending
frightened residents, including defenseless women and children, running for
shelter. A walk along the bombed and damaged roads of Yei is reminiscent of
the horrors of a fictional apocalypse. Just a short distance from the city,
we came across a site where the decisive battle to reoccupy Yei had taken
place. More than 90% of the brick buildings appear to have been destroyed by
the GOS forces. Landmines planted by the GOS when they occupied Yei prior to
March 1997 continue to pose a threat to the unexpected, especially the
children. The skeletal remains of trucks are seen scattered along the roads,
most having come upon a landmine while others clearly met their fate from
that of a bomb that hit its intended target. Fortunately for the civilians
of Yei, the SPLA have taken from their enemy anti-aircraft artillery, since
costing the GOS some aircraft. This has forced the GOS bombers to fly at a
higher altitude, making it more difficult to pinpoint their targets.
Miraculously, there were no injuries on the last air raid and all the bombs
fell short of any houses (huts), the hospital and churches. However, one
bomb exploded within 300 feet of the compound where we were to stay.

A Sudanese pastor bitterly asked, "Why does the GOS bomb civilians when the
SPLA rebel forces are only 20 miles from Juba?" He then answers his own
question, "Because the true objective of the GOS is to carry out their
genocide against all of us in southern Sudan."

Church destroyed by Muslim forces near Yei.
Because of the bombing, many residents have fled to other villages. Churches
hold services at dawn on Sunday mornings, because the GOS has intentionally
timed air raids on Sunday mornings as people attend church services. As a
result, many residents have become too frightened to even attend church.

The ICC team readily agreed, the devastation and ensuing destitution of all
southern Sudan has earned it the unflattering title of Wonduruba.

Silhouette Number Two - The Muslim regime in Khartoum, along with many other
world leaders, continue to deny that the ongoing civil war is a religious
war. Nevertheless, countless statements from within Khartoum and from the
testimonies of the victims of the South tell another story. Soldiers
interviewed by the ICC team tell of hearing the GOS forces on the front
lines chanting "Jihad" and repeatedly shouting "Allah be Praised" as they
continually taunt the SPLA rebels. One SPLA commander reported that he has
heard the SPLA soldiers reply in kind by chanting, Hallelujah to Jesus!" It
would be impossible to convince any southern Sudanese that the war in Sudan
has not turned into a religious war. Sadly, every informed Muslim in the
Arab world would acknowledge among themselves that this is indeed a
religious war. Sadly, the Christians of the West still fail to recognize the
religious dimension of the war in Sudan. Meanwhile, the radical Muslim
regime in Khartoum continues to work toward carrying out its threat to make
all of Africa Muslim.

One pastor interviewed by the ICC team described how he and his family were
constantly ridiculed and harassed by their Muslim captors in the city of
Juba. He witnessed children being bound and tossed alive into the Nile
River, all in the name of Allah. This was the second and confirming
testimony we heard that week of such barbaric treachery against children.
The pastor recalled watching GOS soldiers making sport of a young black
child, tossing the child into the air and then smashing the child into a
tree. This pastor and father of four made plans to escape Juba. He described
how the children are forced to attend Muslim schools and to learn the Koran.
His children were often separated from him in an attempt to divide break the
loyalty of the children from the parents. On the day of his planned escape,
he and his wife managed to gather all but one of his children before making
it across unto SPLA territory. With obvious remorse, this pastor expressed
concern for the child he was forced to leave behind. He was face with the
decision to either escape in the dark of night, with one child unaccounted
for, or return and face certain death. For the sake of his wife and
remaining three children, he chose to abandon the one.

Another young man described how he, at the age of 15, escaped from the GOS
forces in Juba last year. He had been captured during a raid on his village
by the Muslim forces. He described having been taken to the notorious "White
House" and there was maltreated over a three year period. He had frequently
been forced to stand in a kneeling position in a cage. Once locked in the
cage, his captors protruded pointed sticks into the cage, placing them just
inches from his body. Any move would result in excruciating pain. He and
other victims who were acquainted with the "White House" told of how the
ancient Chinese water torture had been used. A bag of water is hung over the
head of the confined prisoner, allowing one drop in intervals to fall upon
the victims head. After awhile, the drops of water appear to become like
mallets, often driving the prisoner mad.

A third man recounted his story of having been captured and later forced to
serve as part of a human shield comprised of other black Africans in an
attack on a village. It happened that the village attacked was his own
village. He managed to escape, but only to find that his wife and three
children had been mercilessly slain.

The atrocities being committed by the GOS are kept from the ears of most
people in the western World. Why? Because the disinformation campaign from
Khartoum has effectively muffled the cries of the suffering people in
southern Sudan. Furthermore, rarely do westerners venture into southern
Sudan to discover the truth. Among the NGOs working in southern Sudan, very
few stay for any period of time that would allow them to truly identify with
the suffering of the southern Sudanese people. What little aid may enter
into the south is delivered by nationals or hastily dumped. During our
travels, we found only one small hospital that was operated by an American
couple and sponsored by Samaritan's Purse. They felt relatively safe because
the hospital was located close within a SPLA garrisoned area. Most
missionary agencies have long ago abandoned the people of southern Sudan and
have opted instead to reside in the relative safety of neighboring
countries. Our team was repeatedly asked, "Why is it that Muslims of the
Arab countries help Khartoum and our Christian brothers and sisters don't
come to our aid?" Sadly, I had to ask myself the same question. The fact
that we were there with them not only surprised them, but offered them a
glimmer of hope.

We had the opportunity to speak to a small gathering of soldiers in Yei. One
man testified that he had been a Muslim but became a Christian after hearing
a missionary couple share from the Bible. This same couple was staying with
us at the same compound in Yei and had committed to spend at least nine
months in Sudan. This former Muslim turned his back on Islam, along with
many other Muslims living in southern Sudan, after realizing that they
wanted no part of the radical Islam being forced upon them by the Khartoum
regime. His cry to us was, "Please go to my place of birth in Bahr El Ghazal
and tell them the truth of what God says in the Bible. It is a religious
war; Islam against the 'infidels' and yet many Muslims in the South are
abandoning Islam and turning to Christianity." While divisions still remain
among the various tribes in southern Sudan, more and more the people are
being galvanized together as they see their families and homeland being
stripped away from them. Their one cry is FREEDOM.

Some of the children who have no access to school and no hope for a future.
Silhouette Number Three - Perhaps one of the greatest tragedies of the past
16 years of civil war is the affect the war has had on the children. Clearly
left etched on our minds is the silhouette of the children who have suffered
the most. An entire generation has already been emotionally, physically, and
academically deprived - an entire generation is slowly being destroyed.
Slavery continues to rob boys and girls of their right to be with their
families, their right to be free. They have been forced to embrace Islam and
to abandon their African and Christian heritage. The ICC team continually
received appeals for help from commanders and the civil authorities of the
Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM). Their cry was for the children
who have been denied basic needs, such as food, medical care, and especially
the opportunity to receive an education. One leader said, "Our children have
no future without education. Please send us teachers, books, pencils and
paper." A pastor we met from the region of Bahr El Ghazal pleaded, "Our
children are bought and sold like cattle while the rest of the world remains
silent." Another pastor from Yei said, "The most important thing the
American Christians can do for us is to advocate for peace. We really need
peace. This is what we want most. Without peace our children will have no

One lone missionary, Mike Howard of the Malawi based Kalibu Ministries, has
established a permanent presence in southern Sudan. Mike, in addition to his
vision of training leaders with a godly character, has a vision to take
young boys into his center in Yei. The SPLA and governor of the region have
given Mike the facility that was once the Agriculture University. Eight
months ago, the entire complex lay in ruin as a result of the Muslim
occupation of Yei. His center has now has become a focus for new hope for
the people of Yei and the surrounding area. Mike has managed to raise enough
money to put a metal roof on all the buildings. Crowds of people watched as
the roof went up. The people in Yei stood in unbelief that anyone would care
enough to live among them and to invest in such a project, knowing that it
would certainly be a target for the next wave of bombers. Nevertheless,
convinced that the children and young men hold the key to the future of the
New Sudan, and convinced that God is on his side, Mike has promised to do
what he can to help.

ICC is joining Mike in this bold effort and is urging organizations that
rescue slaves to allow Mike to provide a home for some of the rescued
orphans. Mike Howard is willing to accommodate the number of orphaned
children that his resources will permit. With the help of concerned
Americans, the needs of these children can be met. These children will be
provided with the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing and a caring
Christian environment. Without this kind of effort, the children rescued
from slavery face a grim future, possibly only to relive the horrors of the
past. With no means to provide for themselves, many are forced to return to
a life of deprivation. Many will be at risk of being recaptured and sold
once again into slavery. Now there is a glimmer of hope. There is at least
an opportunity for us to make a difference for some of these children. But
it will take more than just one individual to make an impact. It is going to
require the resolve of many concerned Americans to care enough to see beyond
the momentary jubilance of witnessing a group of children being rescued from
slavery. It will require a long-term commitment. It will also require an all
out effort to advocate for peace, the diligence to intervene, and the
commitment to offer financial help to meet the many needs.

The U.S. Administration and the Congress must exercise their resolve to end
the fighting in Sudan. The U.S. must immediately begin providing food and aid
directly to the SPLA, not through UN channels. The U.S. should restrict any 
and all foreign or domestic investments that benefit Khartoum The U.S. should 
impose sanctions on governments actively trading with Khartoum. Interested 
parties wanting to participate in International Christian Concern's OPERATION 
ASSIST: SUDAN may do so by calling the ICC office at 1-800-422-5441 
or visiting the ICC web site at

POSTED:  February 21, 2000

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