Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed the signing of an agreement between the governments of Sudan and Southern Sudan on border security and a joint political and security arrangement, urging both parties to conclude and implement a cessation of hostilities pact as well.
The Framework Agreement for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, which lie on the border between the north and the south, was signed yesterday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Troops from the north have in recent weeks clashed with armed groups aligned with the south in South Kordofan, sparking a humanitarian crisis as thousands of people fled from the fighting in and around the town of Kadugli.
Southern Sudan is set to become an independent State on July 9 after its residents voted in favour of secession in a referendum held in January.
Mr. Ban said that unless both the northern and southern government reached an agreement on the cessation of hostilities, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Sudan (UNMIS) will be required to stop operating in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile as of 9 July.
He stressed the importance of protecting civilians and guaranteeing humanitarian access to vulnerable communities in the areas of conflict.
“He remains extremely concerned over the humanitarian situation and the plight of vulnerable civilians in Southern Kordofan,” said a statement issued by his spokesperson.
“He calls on the Government of Sudan to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches those in need and that it takes steps to create a conducive environment for humanitarian operations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states with the cessation of the UNMIS mandate on 9 July,” the statement added.
Under a separate framework agreement signed in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, both parties agreed to form a joint political committee to address all relevant issues related to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, both of which were supposed to hold popular consultations on their future in accordance with the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that aimed to end two decades of warfare between the north and the south.
Meanwhile, the Government of Sudan has granted aid agencies access to limited areas in Kadugli town where their Southern Kordofan operations have their main offices, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported.
However, unhindered access to the affected population continues to be denied and UN agencies are in discussions with the Government on the pressing need to reach other areas.
UN agency offices in Kadugli were pillaged, with looters taking away stocks of relief supplies and office equipment. Only the offices of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) were spared, according to OCHA.
OCHA also reported that only national UN staff are being allowed to monitor and respond to the needs of the internally displaced persons (IDPs). International staff have been denied access due to the Government’s security concerns.