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Monday, 29 October, 2001, 15:36 GMT
Are people more important than oil?
As part of its war against the government, the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army is fighting against the forced displacement of southern Sudanese from oil-rich areas, saying that people are more important than oil.

This week the SPLA claimed it had struck at the heart of the country's oil-producing area in Unity state, destroying oil installations and inflicting heavy casualties on government troops.

Oil has become similarly embroiled in civil conflict in Congo-Brazzaville and Angola.

Are people more important than oil? Or are governments justified in exploiting reserves at whatever cost to the local population? Should foreign companies engage in oil production in countries affected by civil war?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The civil war in Sudan has been going on before oil was discovered

Elmamoon Sulfab, USA
There is no resource in the world that is more important than humans. However the civil war in Sudan has been going on before oil was discovered in the south and central Sudan. The SPLA is not fighting the displacement of the people in those regions, they are responsible for the deaths and displacements of millions in the south as well. Most recently, their attack on the city of Raga in June of 2001. The SPLA, is attacking the oil installations, so it can deprive the Sudanese government of the cash to buy new weapons, and that is a fact.
Elmamoon Sulfab, USA

It is high time Africans and people in the third world realised that war is the mother of poverty. They should not allow foreigners to use them as a means of getting natural resources from Africa. In Angola millions of dollars are being pocketed by foreign multi-nations while they cheaply arm Africans to kill each other. It is the people first then oil.
Mosaisi, USA

The exploration of oil in Sudan causes more bad than good. Yet no one seem to be caring about the innocent lives that are being taken every day by the GOS. We got to stop this inhuman act that being caused to the people of Southern-Sudan by GOS. The oil companies that working in the country got to pull out right away or they will face a lot to come.
Juma, Leon, Sudanes-American

The world community should look into this issue

Namara Nimule, Canada
Let us put our good intentions on to this burning issue and both sides and the world will win. The Khartoum government is entitled to exploit any valuable resource within its boundaries to develop the nation. The Southern Sudanese are entitled to benefit from oil since it is originating from the south. A conference of how to mutually benefit from oil revenues should be called for all parties to candidly air their views and hopefully arrive at the answer to their problems. The world community should look into this issue and get a settlement for the marginalized Nileans.
Namara Nimule, Canada

Of course YES! If we want it to be. But those that have access to oil should remember that it will not be forever. Some other people will come and make the oil more important than them too.
Tayo Ogunkorode, Nigeria

Oil is always more important than people for the West; it always has been that way. Case in point Somalia and Somaliland, one of the reason why Somaliland is not being recognized even after people vote for independence from the rest of Somalia is that oil is in the North(Somaliland) and oil contracts are signed in Somalia.
Abdul, USA

Sudan is very big and very difficult to govern or control

Hassan Eltigani, Sudan/Austria
As we know Sudan is very big and as a result of that very difficult to govern or control. However we could observe the Government control it by means of war; even the SPLA leader has no control over his people therefore he is hiring mercenaries to fight for him against his own people - I mean other tribes apart from Denka. The issue of Sudanese Civil War is very complicated; no one is able to judge who is right and who is wrong, taking into account this Government is not legitimate as well as SPLA Militia, and all of the Sudanese people are victims of both regimes.
Hassan Eltigani, Sudan/Austria

At least now that oil is flowing in Southern Sudan, outside countries are starting to care what goes on there. Before the country had been at war for 30 of the past 40 years with no one caring. Maybe it will mean that the conflict and massacres that have been occurring for decades in southern Sudan by the government and SPLA will finally get the attention that they need.
Kate Delaney, USA

The Khartoum Government has to respect the rights of these people

Meja Bunduki, Southern Sudan
I have never known a resource that is more important than human beings. In any part of the world people are an asset the country relies on for production of the goods and services. In Southern Sudan the civil war has made human beings cheap. Oil has surpassed human life in value such that it has to be drilled at the expense of Southern Sudanese who are chased away from their ancestral land by the Khartoum government. This is absurd and has to be stopped by any means available.

The Khartoum Government has to respect the rights of these people and proper arrangements are made. This can be achieved by a political settlement with the people of the South. But the Sudan government is just buying time to allot concessions to Talisman, China, Thailand and others to quickly send oil to the North and enrich themselves, while the Dinkas, Nuer and other Sudanese are displaced, killed - after all, the rest of the world turn a blind eye. It is not tribal war!
Meja Bunduki, Southern Sudan

The war in Sudan is just another example of the battle for control over oil in developing nations. Nobody seems to learn from the past and the atrocities that Shell is now committing in Nigeria by bringing the people who have suffered for years to court. Since oil companies refuse to take responsibility for their actions it is time for consumers and individual nations to do what's right!
Auden, France

The primary fuel source of any civil war is poverty

Bashir A. Hassan, Somali/ USA
The primary fuel source of any civil war is poverty. If the government of Sudan can exploit its oil reserves at the cost of displacing some of its population, the rich world should not see it as threat, but should welcome it, for it would tremendously improve the devastated lives of the Sudanese.
Bashir A. Hassan, Somali/ USA

Since the exploration of oil in Sudan, peace became difficult if not impossible. The government of Sudan was greatly encouraged by the huge revenues to continue its war against innocent civilians around oil fields. International oil companies must stop drilling oil in that part of the world until peace is achieved because oil kills.
Gwado J. Ador, Netherlands

Adequate accommodations must be made for people whose lives are temporarily interrupted in the name of national progress

Cillaty Daboh, USA/ Sierra Leone
The answer is definitely a big NO. However if government considers such action beneficial to the development of the Nation as a whole, the national interest should take precedence over the few. In doing so adequate accommodations must be made for the people whose lives are temporarily interrupted in the name of national progress. If governments of nations with oil deposits do not have the capability to drill the oil, I see nothing wrong with foreign companies drilling the oil, as long as all the I's are dotted and T's crossed in the agreement that will benefit the nation. Foreign companies have had a bad wrap from Africans because their governments have swindled them and blame it on foreign companies.
Cillaty Daboh, USA/ Sierra Leone

We have 'blood money' and 'blood diamonds' why don't we call this oil 'blood oil'. Isn't someONE more important than someTHING?
Leslie, Texas

See also:

22 Oct 01 | Africa
Sudan rebel attacks downplayed
17 Jun 01 | Africa
Garang: Oil firms are targets
21 Apr 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Oil and Sudan's civil war
07 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Sudan
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