Over 200,000 Could Face Catastrophe as Sudan's Arab Minority Govt Bars Aid to Civilians

More than 200,000 people affected by recent fighting in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan state face potentially catastrophic levels of malnutrition and mortality after the Arab minority Government’s refusal to let aid agencies replenish stocks and deploy personnel, the United Nations warned today.

“The crisis in South Kordofan has reached a critical point,” Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos said in a statement on the state where the UN has already said crimes against humanity and war crimes may have been perpetrated in fighting between Government forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army North (SPLA-N).

“Essential supplies have been completely depleted in many parts of South Kordofan, leaving many people in a life-threatening situation without any prospect of relief,” she added, voicing alarm that Government authorities last week cancelled an essential humanitarian assessment mission to the region after denying permission to international agencies to replenish stocks and deploy personnel for the past six weeks.

“Unless there is an immediate stop to the fighting, and humanitarian organizations are granted immediate and unhindered independent access throughout South Kordofan, people in many parts of the State face potentially catastrophic levels of malnutrition and mortality.”

Ms. Amos welcomed the recent distribution of relief supplies in the state capital, Kadugli, but voiced concern that other parts of Southern Kordofan remain cut off, with more than 200,000 people affected by recent fighting prevented from receiving aid.

“The Government of Sudan and the SPLM-N must lift restrictions on humanitarian organizations so they can provide timely and effective assistance to people in need,” she concluded. “Unless aid is delivered in sufficient quantities now, the consequences will be severe.”

Southern Kordofan borders newly independent South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan on 9 July.

Earlier this month, a preliminary report, produced jointly by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the former UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), described a wide range of alleged violations of international law in Kadugli and the surrounding Nuba mountains.

Reported violations included “extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and illegal detention, enforced disappearances, attacks against civilians, looting of civilian homes and destruction of property,” as well as massive displacement, according to an OHCHR news release.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that while the report was preliminary it suggested that what was happening was so serious that “it is essential there is an independent, thorough and objective inquiry with the aim of holding perpetrators to account.”

The report, which covers the period from 5 to 30 June, also described aerial bombardments on civilian areas in Kadugli and elsewhere in Southern Kordofan, which, it says, have resulted in “significant loss of life.”

UNMIS ended after South Sudan’s independence and has been replaced by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), which does not have a mandate to operate in Sudan.