|Sudan: Thousands forced to return from Uganda||More information|
of refugees, who have been living in Uganda after fleeing a 14-year
old civil war in south Sudan, are being forced to return home because of
atrocities perpetrated by Ugandan rebels allegedly supported by the Sudanese
The refugees, who accuse the rebels of robbery, rape and murder, realize that the situation back in the villages they had escaped from may be just as bad but they prefer to die at home rather than be murdered by Ugandan rebels.
The civil war between the Sudanese military government that wants enforce Islamic law on all its territory, including the south which is inhabited mainly by Christians and Animists and the Sudanese People Liberation Army (SPLA) has resulted in about 1.3 million people killed and forced some 2 million others to escape from the south of the country. The local economy was destroyed by frequent air-raids by government forces together with in-fighting between the different factions within the SPLA.
Thousands of southerners are internally displaced in Sudan itself. They usually move north and 'settle' in cardboard 'houses' in camps around the capital Khartoum. The authorities often close down these camps and bulldoze the 'houses'. Remaining in their own country, these people are not recognized as refugees by the international organizations!
Almost half a million Sudanese refugees live in neighbouring countries including Uganda, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia and Kenya. Up to mid-1995 about half a million Sudanese lived in Libya. Some felt safe there as Islamic fundamentalists are kept under control but around that time the government had expelled thousands of them.
Ten years ago some 300,000 were registered with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Uganda but, according to the Uganda Red Cross, there are now only 50,000 left.
Forcing the refugees back home are the attacks by the West Nile Bank Front (WNBF), which is made up of former henchmen of notorious ex-dictator Idi Amin who want to topple the government of President Yoweri Museveni.
The WNBF is probably in alliance with Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), that wants to rule Uganda on the basis of the 10 biblical commandments! This group killed some 100 Sudanese refugees when it attacked a last year. Both groups have used bases in Sudan. Its attacks on local people were responsible for the displacement of some 60,000 villagers in 1996. The army's favoured recruitment tactic is kidnapping.
The Sudanese government, on its part, accuses Uganda of supporting the SPLA, whose leader, John Garang, has encouraged refugees to return home to areas controlled by his rebel movement.
The situation in Sudan is another example of the harmful legacy of colonialism. Two peoples with different religions and cultures were lumped together with one dominating the other and leading to almost non-stop civil strife.
On a positive note, the Sudanese government has recently accepted a declaration of principles as a basis for discussions with the SPLA. The last series of talks broke down in September 1994 because Khartoum refused to sign the declaration.
UGANDA/REFUGEES AND MIGRATION - Sudanese refugees flee rebels
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