UN issues warning on civilian impact of fighting in Southern Sudan

10 March 2011

The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) today voiced its growing concerns over the civilian impact of the continuing operations by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) against a rebel group operating in the country’s south.

SPLA forces clashed earlier this week with a militia loyal to General George Athor in the state of Jonglei, with media reports indicating that dozens of people may have died, including numerous civilians.

“While the Government of Southern Sudan has a responsibility to address a security threat within its territory, it must do so in accordance with international humanitarian law and allow UNMIS to access victims of the conflict,” the peacekeeping force said in a statement issued in Khartoum.

“UNMIS calls on all parties to refrain from any actions and activities that may result in the harm of civilians or that may endanger their lives and property.”

The statement added that UNMIS also appeals to all groups involved in the clashes to allow unhindered access to the scene of the fighting so that humanitarian workers can assess the situation and determine the immediate needs of the civilians.

Deadly clashes between the SPLA and the pro-Athor militia and attacks against civilians in Jonglei have been reported since January, when voters in Southern Sudan overwhelmingly approved a referendum to secede from the rest of Sudan later this year.

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Violence forces 20,000 people to flee disputed Sudanese region, UN reports

An estimated 20,000 people have fled the urban centre in the contested Sudanese territory of Abyei since fighting broke out in the area last week, the United Nations humanitarian office reported today, adding that aid workers are ready to start delivering relief supplies to those displaced.