Northern Sudan continued its attack on southern forces in the Sudanese state of South Kordofan despite calls by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and other top United Nations officials for an end to the hostilities that have displaced tens of thousands of civilians since it began earlier this month.
There are unconfirmed estimates of more than 53,000 people displaced due to the fighting in Southern Kordofan between the northern army known as the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) of Southern Sudan, according to the UN humanitarian wing.
Fighting, including bombardments and artillery shelling, has been reported in 11 of 19 localities in Southern Kordofan state, and fighting has been reported in Unity state in Southern Sudan, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.
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 the Southern Kordofan capital of Kadugli.
The mission has been assisting the displaced, including feeding about 4,000 of them in Kadugli itself, but its efforts have been hampered by restrictions on movement imposed by the SAF. It has also reinforced its strength in the area by bringing in troops from other parts of the country.
Hua Jiang, the head of public information for UNMIS, said the mission is doing its best, but as the number of the IDPs continues to grow by the day, its military strength is “stretching to its limit.”
UNMIS has also relocated some non-essential staff from Kadugli to El Obeid, in Northern Kordofan state. Ms. Jiang said a convoy carrying about 31 staff members made it to El Obeid today after two previous attempts failed because the SAF, which is controlling Kadugli and surrounding areas, would not let the convoy go through.
UN aid agencies have been working to assist the IDPs, including providing food assistance to thousands at the UNMIS compound. OCHA said access to water is inadequate as the compound remains cut off from supply lines, and that displaced families are collecting water two to three kilometres away from the compound, despite the insecure situation.
OCHA stressed the urgency of carrying out a needs assessment as soon as security conditions allow. Humanitarian partners such as the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have started preparations to dispatch pre-positioned food and non-food items as soon as possible.