Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged an immediate end to the fighting in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan state, which has caused the death of many civilians and the displacement of tens of thousands, and put United Nations staff directly at risk.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban voiced his deep concern about the deterioration of the security situation and the escalation of fighting in the area, which has been the scene since earlier this month of clashes between the northern army known as the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) of Southern Sudan.
Heavy bombardment by Sudanese warplanes has been reported during the past week in areas surrounding the Southern Kordofan capital of Kadugli and other towns.
Some of the internally displaced persons (IDPs), as well as local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN staff, have taken refuge outside the compound of the UN peacekeeping mission (UNMIS) on the outskirts of Kadugli.
“The Secretary-General urges the parties to immediately cease all hostilities and allow unconditional air and ground access to UNMIS and the humanitarian agencies to all parts of Southern Kordofan to provide vital assistance to the affected population, and to ensure the safety and security of United Nations staff,” said the statement.
Mr. Ban also welcomed the efforts led by the African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) to help the parties resolve their differences through peaceful political means, and encourages the parties to reach an agreement as soon as possible.
Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, said she is “extremely alarmed” at the violence and the increasing reports of civilians being targeted.
“Humanitarian organizations are delivering aid where they can, but their ability to help most of those in need is seriously compromised by insecurity and lack of access. Immediate, unconditional and safe freedom of movement for humanitarian organisations is needed in order to protect and assist those in need of aid,” Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, said in a statement.
She called on all parties to refrain from targeting civilians and using indiscriminate tactics, and to respect and protect civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law.
Meanwhile, the Deputy UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Catherine Bragg, refuted reports that the UN has pulled its staff out of Southern Kordofan following the latest violence.
She told a news conference in New York that some staff had been relocated and others were unable to leave their compound. “There is continued humanitarian service there, though it is limited at the moment,” she said.
The latest violence comes as the semi-autonomous region of Southern Sudan prepares to become an independent State on 9 July, following a referendum held at the start of this year in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the long-running north-south civil war.