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Sudan: UN reports intense air bombardment of Southern Kordofan state

Southern Kordofan residents outside UNMIS Kadugli compound after fleeing fighting that erupted in June 2011
Southern Kordofan residents outside UNMIS Kadugli compound after fleeing fighting that erupted in June 2011

Sudan: UN reports intense air bombardment of Southern Kordofan state

The United Nations has reported heavy bombardment by Sudanese warplanes during the past week in areas surrounding the towns of Kadugli and Kauda in the troubled state of Southern Kordofan, with planes early today dropping at least 11 bombs on an airfield close to a UN camp.

The UN peacekeeping operation in Sudan (UNMIS) said it was extremely concerned over the bombing campaign which, it said often seemed indiscriminate and had caused great suffering to local civilians and disrupted humanitarian assistance.

UNMIS reiterated its call all parties to the conflict to immediately allow access to humanitarian agencies, stop indiscriminate military attacks against civilians, and respect and protect them as required under international law.

Heavy fighting between forces of the northern Government and soldiers of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) from the southern semi-autonomous region, which is due to formally secede next month, has raged across Southern Kordofan for more than a week.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) said its office, warehouse and guesthouse in Kadugli, the capital of Southern Kordofan, were pillaged on Friday, with drugs and medical supplies worth $180,000 looted. Computers, office supplies and personal belongings of the agency’s staff were also stolen and there is no information on the whereabouts of three vehicles and communications equipment, WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told reporters in Geneva.

“The Sudanese Red Crescent Society and the local NGO [non-governmental organization] Mobadoron, with support from WHO and UNICEF [UN Children’s Fund], have established two primary health-care centres for families camping around the UNMIS base,” said Mr. Jasarevic.

“However, the possibility of disease outbreaks among the displaced population is growing due to a lack of clean water and proper hygiene and sanitation. The need for clean water and basic sanitation, including latrines, is now critical.”

Most health workers had left Southern Kordofan due to the fighting and the Kadugli Hospital stopped functioning on Sunday. All patients were being referred to the UNMIS hospital.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), meanwhile appealed to local authorities in Kadugli and to the central Government to allow air and road access for humanitarian agencies trying to help thousands of people uprooted by fighting.

Humanitarian flights have been denied authorization to land in Kadugli despite UNHCR’s efforts to secure permission. Access by land was hampered by armed militiamen who had set up roadblocks, about which UNHCR had heard reports of harassment of people on the move.

As a result, UNHCR has been unable to reach a warehouse just five kilometres from the UNMIS base. “If UNHCR were able to reach it, it could assist at least 10,000 of the displaced people,” said UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming.

The agency said it is seeking to gain access to an estimated 41,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) around Kadugli and others areas of Southern Kordofan.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it had so far been able to distribute seven-day food rations to 12,000 people in South Kordofan as of yesterday, adding that it could reach a total of 26,000 people in the coming days.

The WFP warehouse in Kadugli was reportedly undamaged is being guarded by local authorities, according to WFP spokesperson Emilia Casella.

“However, WFP is being restricted from having access and is currently using its food stocks in other locations,” Ms. Casella said. WFP’s premises in Kadugli have been looted and the agency had lost two vehicles and a motorcycle, but its staff are all safe and accounted for, she added.