By Cassandra R. Veney

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The SPLA viewed the Jonglei Canal project and the oil operations by Chevron as part of the government’s plans to exploit the south’s land and minerals—both sites were dragged into the civil war when they become targets of attacks by the SPLA (Warburg 2000; Kok 1992). Clearly, the issues of oil, land, and water were all intertwined in the conflict. Although the SPLA, under Garang, declared in its Manifesto that it did not want secession for the south, it was clear that it wanted to control the oil fields and the rich agricultural lands and water supplies of the south.

Such were their fears of persecution that the students waged a hunger strike in front of the UNHCR offices in Nairobi after they were informed that they were to be sent to Kakuma or Dadaab refugee camps. They claimed that Ethiopian government agents would kill them if they were sent to the camps. On the other hand, some Oromo refugees in Nairobi claimed that they were targets for attacks and murder by the Ethiopian government (USCR 2000). In addition to the students and ordinary civilians, Ethiopian refugees in Kenya also included several members of the military (officers) and civil servants sought asylum in Kenya—all claiming that they would be killed if they remained or were sent back to Ethiopia, especially after the assassination of the head of the Ethiopian National Security and Immigration Authority in 2001.

Before long fighting broke out among the followers of Farah Aideed and Ali Mahdi in the USC as well as between the USC and the SPM. Indeed, several parts of the country were engulfed in all-out interclan conflicts, including Mogadishu the capital where the fiercest battles were fought. (Lyons and Samatar 1995). The result was a breakdown in all civil authority in the country. The anarchy and chaos that followed led thousands to flee south to Kenya and many more were internally displaced. S. Committee for Refugees (USCR) reported “by late 1992, some 300,000 to 500,000 persons had died due to violence, famine, and disease, including half of all children under age 5, according to estimates by the UN and the International Committee for the Red Cross.

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