Aid agencies pull out of southern Sudan after SPLA faction’s threat


Mark Huband in Yuai, southern Sudan

The Guardian, 1 April 1993


RELIEF agencies in Sudan yesterday rapidly withdrew staff from the southern Jonglei region after the leader of one of the country’s warring factions accused United Nations workers of aiding a rival group.

Aid workers in agencies working with the UN’s Operation Lifeline Sudan left the towns of Ayod, Waat and Yuai after clashes between factions of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA). The towns are entirely dependent on. UN food aid. Relief food flights will not be stopped and taff are expected to be shuttled in and out of the three towns from Kenya each day.

The Torit faction of the SPLA, led by Colonel John Garang, accused the relief workers of assisting the SPLA’s Nasir faction led by Commander Riek Machar. The claim was strongly denied by Operation Lifeline’s director, Philip O’Brien.

Col Garang’s troops took the town of Kongor from Nasir forces at the weekend. In an interview at Yuai yesterday, Comm Machar said he would launch a fresh offensive to retake the town unless Col Garang withdrew.

During the fighting, the local UN representative, Jean-Francois Darq, was stripped to his underwear by Col Garang’s troops and forced to walk through thorn-bushes in scorching heat. UN sources said that, after four hours, Mr Darq fell down. The soldiers shot at him but fled when they came under attack. Mr Darq was not injured. He was found by Comm Machar’s troops and flown to Kenya.

Mr O’Brien and the Netherlands minister for development and co-operation, Jan Pronk, met Col Garang in Nairobi last night, and are believed to have strongly criticised the treatment of Mr Darq.


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