Jan 292010

“Sudan is a Hell”, April, 2007, Northern Bar-el-Ghazal, close to the Darfur border:
We see a family living in impoverished conditions as Simon Deng explains that they are “Baggara” (nomadic cattle herders of Arab origin), a Bedouin people. On the first “slavery redemption day” with the Swiss NGO Christian Solidarity International (CSI), the Sudanese-American anti-slavery activist Simon Deng walked into the bush to talk to the Baggara family that had set-up camp near-by. CSI’s Human Rights Director, John Eibner, explained that the father of this Baggara family was one of the middle-men who organized the buying-back of Dinka boys and men who had reportedly been kidnapped from their villages in Southern Sudan and then taken into slavery in Darfur.

During the North-South civil war the GoS armed Baggara tribes as militia to fight the SPLA. The Baggara raided villages in the South, taking women and children as slaves, according to reports by the International Crisis Group. Leaders of many Baggara tribes subsequently negotiated truces with local SPLA forces during the 1990’s.

Dr. John Eibner
Dr. John Eibner, Director of Human Rights with the NGO Christian Solidarity International, has been traveling throughout Sudan for the past 19 years, together with his colleague Gunnar Wielbeck. Eibner has been an important driving force to end slavery in South Sudan, including organizing the buying “slaves” back from their masters.* I filmed Eibner, Wielbeck, Simon Deng and others in their group, on two such “slavery redemptions” in the western-most region of Southern Sudan in 2007.

* Eibner explained that CSI buys slaves back from their “masters”, who are nomadic cattle-herders, with cattle vaccines. One single vaccine, which costs $50 US, can buy back one boy or man, or a woman with all her small children. One vaccine is enough to protect an entire herd of cattle from deadly disease.