UN Security Council urges peace in Sudan | Africa | DW | 13.04.2012
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UN Security Council urges peace in Sudan

The UN Security Council has called for a immediate ceasefire along the 1,900 kilometer border that divides Sudan and Southern Sudan.

In a strongly worded statement, the Security Council has called for the two countries to immediately cease hostilities which already causing a humanitarian catastrophe in South Sudan.

"The Security Council demands a complete, immediate, and unconditional end to all fighting, the withdrawal of South Sudan's army from Heglig, an end to Sudanese Armed Forces aerial bombardments and to repeated incidents of cross-border violence between Sudan and South Sudan," the statement said.

It also said both sides should stop using proxies, a reference to rebels groups based in one country which fight on behalf of the other country.

Rebels from Sudan's Nuba Mountains pick through an exploded munitions truck of the Sudanese government after a battle in the town of Tess.

Sudan was seeking to emerge from decades of conflict

The Security Council also warned that "the recent violence threatened to return both countries to full-scale war and the period of tragic loss of life and suffering, destroyed infrastructure, and economic devastation, which they have worked so hard and long to overcome".

The collapse of talks in Addis Ababa between Sudan and South Sudan has led the international community and humanitarian organisations to voice concern about the possible outbreak of war between the two countries.

Accusations and counter accusations

South Sudan has repeatedly accused Sudan of launching air strikes on some of its major oilfields. Sudan has denied this but says its ground forces had attacked southern artillery positions that had fired on the north.

South Sudan accuses Sudan of aggression and implies that the international community is guilty of double standards. It says it does not criticize Khartoum with the same vehemence when it assaults South Sudan.

Omar el Bashir and Salva Kiir

Sudanese president Omar el Bashir and his south Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir Mayardit

Peter Schumann, former director of the UN mission in South Sudan, said the conflict has its own recent history. He noted the failure of the international community to condemn the attacks on Abyei by Khartoum.

"The international community should have supported not only efforts by the AU implementation panel to bring back stability in the region, but also bilateral arrangements aimed at guiding the new-born state," Schumann said.

The former UN high ranking official argues that it was necessary to help the new state of South Sudan to acquire a better understanding of its ambitions rather than pushing it into agreeing to certain concessions.

Humanitarian impact

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is deeply concerned about the safety of some 16,000 refugees in South Kordofan, who live near the volatile border that has been the target of aerial bombings and shelling by the Sudanese army in the past.

Newly registered Sudanese from Darfur, Sudan set up their tents at a refugee camp in Bredjing, Chad

Aid agencies can find it difficult working in Sudan

"We are trying our best to move these refugees further south because to us the physical safety of these refugees is so important," said UNHCR spokesperson Vivian Thein.

However, those refugees are unwilling to move. They insist on staying closer to their homes near the border, where they could be easy targets by further aerial bombardments.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for humanitarian aid organisations to reach the refugees because security is so bad. The rain seasony will also make the already difficult terrain virtually impassable.

Author: Isaac Mugabi (Reuters)
Editor: Mark Caldwell