Deteriorating situation reported in Nubah Mountains

June 8, 2001

A large government offensive in the Nubah Mountains, which started on 17 May and was ended by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) about four days ago, has raised of issues of great concern to aid agencies, humanitarian sources told IRIN on Thursday.

In a statement issued on 25 May, the Sudanese armed forces claimed it had retaken nine localities in the Nubah Mountains from the SPLA, according to the official news agency SUNA.

The statement said that troops had freed civilians who were being used as human shields and seized large quantities of weapons and ammunition.

There had been long-range artillery shelling for 15 consecutive days, including the shelling of airstrips used by humanitarian flights, according to sources in close contact with southern Sudan.

IRIN was told of reliable reports that villages, food, schools and churches were burned, many civilians killed or kidnapped, and thousands of people displaced.

The food security situation was now very bad in the Nubah Mountains and there were real fears of starvation, the sources added.