Sudan to let UN access South Kordofan

August 19, 2011 (Sudan Tribune)

Sudan has agreed to let six UN agencies under local supervision to assess humanitarian needs in its war-stricken state of South Kordofan.

Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, Sudan’s envoy to the UN, on Friday announced that its humanitarian commissioner will lead a mission involving six UN agencies to conduct an assessment of the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan which has been rattled by fighting between Sudan’s army and rebels previously aligned with the independent state of South Sudan since early June.

UN estimates that at least 200,000 people in South Kordofan have been killed, injured or forced to flee their homes and land since the fighting erupted.

The mission, which will last for six days in several locations, includes the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the World Food Program, World Health Organization and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN spokesman Farhan Haq told Agence France Presse (AFP).

But a Western diplomat speaking on the condition of anonymity with AFP is cynical about Khartoum’s move which he called “a smokescreen.”

“Sudan is not giving in any way to pressure from the international community," he said, adding that "Khartoum is still banning free access to humanitarian aid. Khartoum is not allowing an independent inquiry into the accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity made against its troops."

A UN report last week documented wide-ranging atrocities it alleges were committed by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and its allied paramilitary forces during South Kordofan’s conflict. The report said that the actions could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, calling for an independent probe into the situation.

Sudan dismissed the report as biased and vowed not to heed international concerns over the situation. The country’s senior presidential assistant Nafi Ali Nafi said that Sudan would not let international shrieks over the matter distract it from quelling the rebellion.

Sudan’s UN envoy said the fact that his country agreed to the mission disproved allegations of abuses contained in the UN report.

"This defeats the allegations in the preliminary report," he said. "There are no military attacks in Southern Kordofan."

Sudan has recently softened stance on its commitment to fight South Kordofan’s rebels until they are defeated and expressed readiness to initiate a dialogue, in a sign that that its army has failed to defeat the rebels.

The UN Security Council convened a closed-doors session on Friday to discuss the UN report on South Kordofan as Sudan strongly protested the move, saying that the report is not predicated on evidence.

China and Russia last week blocked US attempts to bring the UNSC to condemn the Sudanese government’s actions in South Kordofan and its aerial bombardments but Western nations pledged to press the matter.


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