After the discovery of oil in Sudan, "central governments armed elements of the Baggara cattle herders of southern Kordofan and gave them free rein to attack Dinka and Nuer in and around the Unity and Heglig fields north of Bentiu. These Baggara militia--dubbed murahleen--raided and burned villages, looted cattle, drove southerners off their pastures and abducted women and children.
"Organised and armed by the government, and often acting in unison with government forces, the Baggara 'murahleen' figured prominently at key moments in the development of the oil fields. In November 1992, as Khartoum began planning for oil exploitation" in a new consortium with Canada's Arakis Energy Corporation, the "government and its murahleen allies began a five-month offensive designed, according to Human Rights Watch, 'to permanently dislodge the civilians'. 'In November 1992 through April 1993, these forces looted, burned, killed and abducted people,' Human Rights Watch said. 'The survivors said that the government was trying to clear the area so that" the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) "would not be near the oil fields.'
In October 1996, two months before" China's China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Malaysia's Petronas "joined Arakis in the so-called Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC), a new government-murahleen offensive displaced many thousands more, furthering the deliberate creation of a cordon sanitaire around the oil areas. Cattle and grain were looted, food stores looted and burned." 
Related SourceWatch Resources
- Peter Verney, "FMO Country Guide: Sudan," Forced Migration.org, 2005. See "Oil and displacement in South Sudan."