United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) today started distributing food and clean water to tens of thousands of people who fled fighting in the disputed Sudanese town of Abyei last week.
“Today we are distributing vital food assistance in two locations in Agok,” said David Greesly, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Southern Sudan. “A total of five food centres are being set up covering some 18 villages. We are also providing clean water and health care to the displaced people.”
An initial assessment found that the most pressing needs of the displaced population were for food, shelter, water and health-care facilities. Humanitarian agencies are also beginning work on reuniting separated children with their families. However, the rainy season is hampering access to some areas in the east, while insecurity is posing challenges to the west, according to a statement issued by the office of the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan.
OCHA estimates that between 30,000 and 50,000 people were displaced by the fighting in Abyei, which broke out last week despite a peace deal signed three years ago between Sudanese Government forces and southern rebels. The town lies in an oil-rich area near the boundary between north and south Sudan.
A joint meeting last Thursday between the Government and the southern rebels, under the auspices of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), struck an agreement to end the clashes in Abyei, which is now largely deserted.
An impasse over the boundaries and status of Abyei has been one of the major stumbling blocks preventing the full implementation of the January 2005 comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) that ended the long-running north-south civil war in Sudan.