13 September 2011

Sudan: Fighting in Blue Nile State Displaces Tens of Thousands of People - UN

Fighting between the Sudanese armed forces and rebels in the country's Blue Nile state has continued, displacing tens of thousands of people who cannot be reached by relief agencies due to movement restrictions imposed by the Government, the United Nations humanitarian office reported today.

The fighting pits government forces against the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) and was previously confined to Southern Kordofan state before it spread to neighbouring Blue Nile last week.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in an update that little is known about the situation in Blue Nile, particularly in the SPLM-N controlled areas, due to lack of access. More than 100,000 people are thought to be displaced.

The security situation in the Blue Nile capital, Damazin, where fighting broke out at the beginning of the month, is normalizing but the city remains tense, according to the OCHA update.

A movement restriction imposed by the Government on UN staff remains in place in both Sennar and Blue Nile states.

Last Thursday, the Government said an assessment of humanitarian needs and the distribution of aid in Blue Nile will be coordinated by state authorities and that any humanitarian activities will be carried out by local humanitarian organizations, including the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS).

According to the Government's Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) and local authorities in Blue Nile, new procedures relating to the work of UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will be announced before the end of this week.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) has received official requests from SRCS and another local group for food assistance to communities displaced from Blue Nile. However, due to government-imposed restrictions on pre-positioning of food stocks in Blue Nile, WFP has only enough stocks to feed 20,000 people for two weeks.

Police in Damazin have continued to provide protection to UN offices and warehouses to prevent looting. Three international NGOs have reported that their compounds in Damazin were looted.

There are reports of ongoing fighting in various parts of Southern Kordofan, but no further details have been forthcoming.

Some 8,000 newly displaced people in the eastern areas of South Kordofan have received non-food relief items. The assistance was made available by UN agencies in partnership with SRCS, HAC, and a local NGO.

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