The Security Council today expressed grave concern about reports of renewed cross-border violence between Sudan and South Sudan, and called for a ceasefire in the area to end the hostilities that have caused thousands of people to flee the region over the past weeks.
The Council, in a presidential statement, demanded that “all parties cease military operations in the border areas and put an end to the cycle of violence,” and that both Governments “take no action that would undermine the security and stability of the other.”
Tensions between the two countries over unresolved border disagreements have continued to simmer and heavy fighting between the Sudanese armed forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states has led to a humanitarian crisis and triggered massive displacement.
The Council urged the Sudanese and South Sudanese Governments to return to direct talks to resolve their political and security issues on the basis of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the 2005 document that ended decades of civil war and led to South Sudan formally seceding from Sudan last July.
The 15-member body also emphasized the urgency of delivering aid to prevent the current crisis from worsening.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also warned that the recent clashes are prompting thousands of people to flee their homes and seek for safety in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state and western Ethiopia.
Last week, UNHCR registered 2,287 new arrivals in the Doro and Jammam refugee sites in Upper Nile, bringing to more than 80,000 the total number of registered refugees in this region. In western Ethiopia, the agency is also receiving a steady flow of new arrivals mostly from Sudan’s Blue Nile state.
“We are working at establishing a third camp to accommodate the growing Sudanese influx into Ethiopia,” UNHCR spokesperson Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba told reporters at a briefing in Geneva.
“The new camp is located in Bambasi and will have the capacity to house up to 20,000 refugees when it is completed later this month,” she said, adding that UNHCR is expecting more arrivals into South Sudan and Ethiopia because refugees reported that more communities are on the move in Blue Nile.
Ms. Lejeune-Kaba said the security situation is also precarious in the other border areas between South Sudan’s Unity state and Sudan’s Southern Kordofan after reported bombings last week along the western border of Pariang County and in the Lake Jau area.
“We are extremely concerned about the safety of people in the nearby Yida refugee settlement, which hosts 16,022 Sudanese,” Ms. Lejeune-Kaba said. “UNHCR is continuing to transfer refugees away from volatile border areas to refugee sites we have established at safer distances from the fighting.”
South Sudan now hosts more than 100,000 registered Sudanese refugees from South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Western Ethiopia has so far registered more than 30,000, mainly from Blue Nile.
Meanwhile, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) confirmed that fighting between Lou Nuer and Murle youth had taken place in Jonglei state over the weekend, with the number of casualties still unknown. The Mission stated that it sent patrols to the area to determine the cause of the clashes and the number of casualties.