Islamic Fundamentalists Starve Out South Sudanese

by Servant's Heart

Islamic Fundamentalists Starve Out South Sudanese

While the Sudanese Muslim government publicly condemns terrorism and proclaims that it allows freedom of religion, it seeks to systematically starve its own southern provinces by burning crops, according to Dennis E. Bennett, executive director of Servant's Heart. The people in the villages of the Blue Nile and Upper Nile are starving as a result of the Islamic holy war against the south that has raged continuously since 1983, Bennett said.

In May, 2001, a humanitarian team found thousands of starving Sudanese people in a hilly, tropical area of Sudan. In this corner of the Upper Nile Province, approximately 64,000 people live on less than 400 calories per day (eating only tree leaves and plant roots) because Government of Sudan (GOS) soldiers burned their fields and food stores, Bennett said.

Approximately 25 percent of these people are suffering orphaned boys whose parents and siblings were killed by the GOS. Medical diagnosis confirmed that virtually everyone in this area is sick with dysentery, malaria and worms, due to poor nutrition and unsanitary water quality. In addition, many are sick with meningitis, leprosy, polio, and other diseases that are easily treatable with modern medication unavailable here.

Burned back to the "stone age" by the GOS, these people have few metal utensils to build huts, cultivate food, and care for themselves. They have no seed to grow their own food and are forced to hide in the hills, where many are dying.

Many children are orphaned as a result of the raiding bands of the Government of Sudan's Islamic Defense Forces cavalry, a vicious army that burns crops, gang rapes and kills people across southern Sudan. The medical needs are unmet in the area because of the remoteness of this region and the continual sharing of sparse resources-a practice that spreads disease.

"It is unbelievable that the GOS can burn a large group of its own people back to the stone age in the name of Allah and then proclaim that it allows religious freedom," Bennett said. "The continued pronouncements of Jihad‚ (Islamic holy war) by President Bashir and Vice President Taha against South Sudan, especially since the September 11th attack on the United States, make us fearful that more Christian and moderate Muslim civilians in southern Sudan will be killed by the GOS," he continued.

"We have spoken with first-hand witnesses to the religious persecution of Christians in Blue Nile and Upper Nile. This includes the gang-rape of Christian women, who had their breasts cut off and bled to death in the grass, and pastors

tortured in front of their congregations.

Osama bin Laden has training camps just a few miles away from this region on land supplied by the Government of Sudan, Bennett charged.

"While the attacks on Americans on September 11th were atrocious, the Sudanese people have suffered similar terrors at the hands of those in league with Osama bin Laden for years."

Servant's Heart, headquartered in Renton, Wash., was formed to provide physical and spiritual assistance to people who have suffered under religious oppression. Servant's Heart seeks to meet these immediate needs in Sudan's Upper Nile with grain, seed, agricultural tools, medical supplies and training. Servant's Heart is also providing reading primers, school supplies, and Bibles in various languages. In the United States, Servant's Heart has an on-going ministry among the Sudanese Lost Boys and maintains a Website to assist relief agencies and American sponsoring families.

The ministry has been working-as the Blue Nile Project-in Sudan since October 1998, staffed mostly by volunteers. Additional information is available on Servant's Heart at www.servantsheartrelief.org or by calling 1-888-222-0793.

From information provided by Servant's Heart.