Recruitment methods of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) [SDN9522]

Detailed information on recruitment methods of the SPLA could not be found among the sources currently available to the IRBDC.
One source indicates that young Dinka (an ethnic group) men from the densely populated districts of Aweil and Gogrial joined the SPLA in the early period of its formation (Amnesty International, AI Index AFR 54/17/89, 6). The same source adds that the Dinka and Luo ethnic groups have provided most of the SPLA's support in Bahr al-Ghazal. In late 1987 "senior commanders with virtually their entire units" defected from the Anyanya Two (also written Anya Nya 2 or in other similar forms) movement to join the SPLA (Ibid.).
Amnesty International makes direct references to SPLA recruitment in two sections of the above-mentioned document: in late 1985 the group reportedly began recruiting among the non- Arab communities of the Southern Blue Nile, and later, around mid-1987, its Volcano battalion did the same in the Nuba Mountains area of South Kordofan (Ibid.). However, the source provides no details on how this recruitment was performed.
Another report states it is SPLA policy to ensure that each of its units is comprised of people who are from the area in which the unit is operating (Africa Watch Mar. 1990, 153). The report points out, however, that this was not the case in Equatoria by March 1990 (Ibid.).
One of the attached articles from Africa Confidential makes a reference to "child soldiers" and mentions the existence of camps housing refugee children under rebel control (13 Sept. 1991). Another recent source includes a reference to 10,000 children being held captive by rebel forces in the South (Sudan Update 24 Sept. 1991, 3), although it adds that the leader of the SPLA had denied the 10,000 children were being trained as soldiers (Ibid., 5).
The attached Africa Watch report includes references to the exploitation of children by the SPLA, although they seem to be used mostly as porters and for other non-combat work (Africa Watch Mar. 1990, 159-161). A source from the New York-based African-American Institute stated that the SPLA draws much of its support from the southern population, which is rebelling against what it perceives as unequal or abusive treatment by the central government (9 Oct. 1991). The SPLA has been known to have committed excesses despite its efforts to present a rights-respecting image; however, forced recruitment of combatants has not been mentioned in any verifiable reports available to the source (Ibid.).
Two recent reports (found in the IRBDC's Indexed Media Review, available at your Regional Documentation Centre) contain references to forced recruitment. However, one of the reports mentions the issue as part of the accusations levelled at the SPLA chief by dissident rebel leaders. The report states that the dissident rebel leaders accused the SPLA chief of "a reign of terror, forcible recruitment and human rights abuses" (Reuters 1 Sept. 1991).
The other recent report referring to rebel forced recruitment by the rebels was disseminated by the BBC, although its source is actually the official Sudan News Agency. The news item quotes 783 alleged SPLM (Sudan People's Liberation Movement, whose armed wing is the SPLA) deserters who claimed they had been taken by force to recruitment camps in Ethiopia (BBC Summary 17 July 1991).
It must be pointed out, however, that Africa Watch and other sources have reported in the past, particularly since late 1990, that access to reliable current information on events taking place in conflict areas of Sudan is limited.
For your information, please find attached a copy of the latest article on Sudan from Africa Confidential and a section on the conduct of war by the SPLA from a March 1990 Africa Watch report (listed below).


Africa Confidential [London, U.K.]. 13 Sept. 1991. "Sudan: A Moment of Truth for the SPLA."
African-American Institute, New York. 9 October 1991. Telephone Interview with Staff Member.
Africa Watch. March 1990. Denying "The Honor of Living" - Sudan A Human Rights Disaster. New York/Washington, D.C./London, U.K.: Africa Watch.

Amnesty International. (AI Index: AFR 54/17/89). "Sudan - Human Rights Violations in the Context of Civil War."

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts. 17 July 1991. "Sudan in Brief; Seven Hundred and Eighty-Three SPLM Rebels Respond to Peace Call." (NEXIS)

Reuters. 1 September 1991, BC Cycle. "Sudanese Guerrilla Chief Crushed Rebellion, Paper." (NEXIS)

Sudan Update [London, U.K.]. 24 September 1991. News items on pages 3 and 5.


Africa Confidential [London, U.K.]. 13 Sept. 1991. "Sudan: A Moment of Truth for the SPLA."

Africa Watch. March 1990. Denying "The Honor of Living" - Sudan A Human Rights Disaster. New York/Washington, D.C./London, U.K.: Africa Watch, pp. 153-161.