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Annan concerned over effects of military offensive in southern Sudan

Annan concerned over effects of military offensive in southern Sudan

Voicing concern over the impact of military attacks on civilians in the Sudan, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged the warring parties to settle their differences peacefully.

A spokesman for the Secretary-General said in a statement that Mr. Annan was deeply concerned about the effects on the civilian population of recent military offensives in the southern province of Bahr El Ghazal in the Sudan.

"The Secretary-General much regrets that, once again in the Sudan, it is the civilian population which is bearing the brunt of armed conflict and reiterates the need for the parties to resolve their differences by peaceful means," spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said.

He added that the fighting, which has caused massive disruption, came at a time when farming communities should have been fully engaged in planting for the next harvest season. Many thousands of civilians have fled into government-controlled areas, while the Bahr El Ghazal region - traditionally a "bread basket" area - now faced real fears of "coming food shortages in a locality where there was once a surplus," he said.

The spokesman noted that Operation Lifeline Sudan- the framework through which UN agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been assisting millions of Sudanese throughout the country for over a decade - was working with the humanitarian community to provide immediate relief assistance to cope with the crisis.