Thousands displaced due to Southern Kordofan fighting shelter near UNMIS

8 Jun 2011

Thousands displaced due to Southern Kordofan fighting shelter near UNMIS

8 June 2011 – Thousands of people displaced by conflict in Southern Kordofan State have sought refuge in an area secured by UNMIS outside Kadugli town.

The fighting with small arms and artillery fire, which began on 6 June, continued in various locations of the state capital Kadugli, moving from the southwest to the northwest of the town.

When the warring parties had shown no signs of ceasing the conflict by the end of the second day of hostilities, UNMIS secured an area to temporarily settle internally displaced people (IDPs) fleeing the fighting.

"Violence resulted in thousands of people being displaced from their homes. Many of these – anywhere between two to five thousand by last night – have sought refuge here," said UNMIS Kadugli Head of Office Mark Rutgers. "Already, the numbers have exceeded capacity, in keeping with established norms, and we have appealed for assistance from the other UN agencies to assist."

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) compound had been identified as another possible location for a protected area, Mr. Rutgers said, but this was reconsidered due to its proximity to Kadugli town, and reported advancement of fighting forces to its location.

"Already, the IDPs coming in a steady stream are spilling out of the area we had originally set up for them," he said.

According to UNMIS Force Commander Maj. Gen. Moses Obi, who returned to UNMIS' Khartoum headquarters from a two-day trip to Kadugli on 7 June, the military was providing physical protection to displaced persons sheltering near the UNMIS compound.

"We are working on screening the displaced, and if any one of them carries arms, we will get them out," Maj. Gen. Obi said. He also stressed that humanitarian assistance to the thousands of displaced was urgent.

UNMIS military had also deployed to various locations around Kadugli town, the Force Commander said, including to the airport and the UN World Food Programme warehouse, and had conducted air patrols in the state.

UNMIS had also extracted from Kadugli about 300 staff of UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations, who are currently being housed in the UNMIS compound.

Yesterday, Mr. Rutgers, together with Maj. Gen. Obi and UNMIS Kadugli Sector Commander Brig. Gamal Hamad, met with Southern Kordofan Governor Ahmed Haroun.

"Mr. Haroun outlined the means with which he hopes to be able to de-escalate the current crisis and told us that the government is working with the State Security Committee (including both the Sudan People's Liberation Army, SPLA and the Sudan Armed Forces, SAF) to contain the violence," said Mr. Rutgers. "They have also dispatched an emissary from (the) SPLA to former deputy governor Abdulaziz al-Hilu to jointly appeal for calm. Results are yet to be seen."

On 6 June, UNMIS called in a statement for the parties to defuse tensions in the Abyei area and Southern Kordofan State. The mission expressed concern about security incidents that took place on 5 June in Kadugli and Um Durein, Southern Kordofan State, and urged the parties to resume dialogue.