UN reports abuses against peacekeepers, ongoing battles in Sudan’s South Kordofan
17 June, 2011 (Sudan Tribune)
Intermittent fighting, artillery shelling and military buildups continue to plague various parts in Sudan’s flashpoint state of South Kordofan despite earlier reports of truce, the UN reported on Friday, and condemned abuses committed against its peacekeepers in the region.
Heavy fighting involving aerial bombardment and artillery erupted two weeks ago in Sudan’s South Kordofan State between the country’s army and its allied paramilitary forces on one side and elements aligned with South Sudan which is due to split from the north in July.
Over 60,000 have been displaced by the violence and aerial bombardment by Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in the area may have killed 64 people, according to UN estimates.
There have been reports of widespread abuses and atrocities committed by SAF against members of the Nuba local population which largely sided with South Sudan during more than two decades of civil war with the North.
The war ended in 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which paved the way for the conduct of South Sudan’s referendum on independence.
Addressing the UN daily media briefing in New York on Friday, the Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Martin Nesirky said that that the UN strongly condemns the detention and abuse on Thursday of four of its peacekeepers in South Kordofan’s state capital of Kadugli as they were patrolling the town to assess security situation.
“The Sudanese Armed Forces, the [South’s] Sudan People’s Liberation Army and other armed groups must immediately stop intimidating and harassing UN staff, who are critical to provide the necessary humanitarian assistance to the vulnerable populations,” Nesirky said.
Nesirky further said that the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) continues to engage politically at all levels to urge the party leaders in Kadugli and Khartoum to cease hostilities, allow civilian return, cease restrictions on the Mission’s freedom of movement, and re-engage in the political discussions.
It was reported on Thursday that the warring parties in South Kordofan had agreed to cease hostilities and initiate negotiations.
However, Nesirky reported that intermittent fighting, artillery shelling and military buildups are ongoing in various locations in South Kordofan State, causing a serious concern to the UN.
The UN spokesperson said that UNMIS continues to maintain a ‘protection perimeter’ outside its base in Kadugli to support the thousands of internally displaced people who have gathered there, and to provide military protection for the World Food Programme warehouse and other key locations in Kadugli and to work with the UN Country Team to provide food and medical assistance to the displaced.
A 120-strong light infantry of peacekeepers from Bangladesh were flown from Juba to Kadugli to bolster UNMIS presence, Nesirky said.
UNMIS has been severely criticized for perceived failure to protect civilians in the Nuba Mountains. Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG), a local NGO, said in a statement dated 13 June that UNMIS “appears to be completely unable to provide the civilian protection required and ensure delivery of urgent humanitarian aid.”
SDFG said that UNMIS had declined or ignored requests to evacuate individuals on the pretext that ‘the mission mandate does not allow’ it.
The SPLM in South Kordofan also accused some members of UNMIS peacekeeping force of collaboration with government security forces.
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