UN: ‘Utter Devastation’ on Sudan’s North-South Border

Posted June 29th, 2011 at 9:00 am (UTC-5)
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A senior U.N. human rights official says clashes along Sudan's north-south border have caused “utter devastation” in the region.

The U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang, says urgent action is needed to prevent the violence from spreading and to protect civilians caught in the unrest.

Kang, who visited the region last week, says huts were still smoldering during her brief stop in the disputed Abyei region. She describes looters roaming the streets in the presence of northern Sudanese troops who occupied Abyei last month.

In a statement , Kang warned the devastation in Abyei is a “chilling warning” of what may become of the border area.

Southern Sudan is set to declare independence on July 9, but northern and southern leaders have not agreed on their final border, nor on the future of oil-rich and fertile Abyei.

Tension between the sides has risen with recent fighting in Abyei and in Southern Kordofan state.

Kang says civilians desperately need aid, protection and accurate information to help them decide if they can return to their homes.

She called for the unrestricted flow of humanitarian aid and for both sides to negotiate an end to the violence.

Northern and southern leaders agreed last week to withdraw forces from the Abyei region and allow U.N. peacekeepers to oversee security there.

On Monday, the U.N. Security Council approved the six-month deployment of 4,200 peacekeeping troops to Abyei. Ethiopia has agreed to provide the troops.

North and South Sudan fought a 21-year civil war that ended with a 2005 peace deal. South Sudan voted to split from the north in a referendum in January.