HRW report links oil exploration to human rights abuses

25 November 2003
US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) on 24 November released a report linking government and foreign oil companies working in the country to the 'division and displacement' of people during the 20-year civil war. In a 750-page report, HRW said that by 2002, 'the government had apparently reached a strategic balance point - It was able to generate enough income from the relatively small Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Corporation areas already producing oil to start a domestic arms industry and purchase sixteen new attack helicopters in two years and armaments from abroad that would enable it to target, clear populations, and secure the next oil concession area with road building and garrisons'. The report adds that the foreign oil companies have been 'in complicity in this displacement'.

The report highlights the attention that the ongoing peace talks between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and Khartoum have attracted, but says that little will change without a substantial changes in security in the region. 'If peace means that the SPLA is the sole government of the southern region and it refuses to compromise or reconcile with the other southern military and political forces - displacement and death in the oil war will continue to be the fate of southern Sudanese, even if a peace agreement is signed by the Sudanese government.

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