9 January 2013

Sudan: U.S. Condemns Sudanese Bombardment of Rebel Areas

Washington — The United States has condemned the Sudanese government's aerial bombardment of rebel areas in the south and called for the United Nations to take action to address a humanitarian emergency there.

"We remain deeply concerned by the continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile," U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan Rice said in New York January 8. Those two states in southern Sudan are fighting an insurgency against the government in Khartoum.

"We're also deeply concerned about the ongoing aerial bombardments by the Sudanese Armed Forces, including in civilian areas. The Security Council must work collectively now to press for immediate and unfettered humanitarian access," she added. Rice said the rebel leaders of Sudan People's Liberation Movement - North and the government of Sudan both bear blame for the humanitarian crisis, but most of the blame is on the shoulders of the government in Khartoum.

She said the United States favors "turning up the heat" on the warring parties to allow humanitarian access to the areas.

"We will continue to put emphasis on the necessity for access, for protection of civilians, and for accountability. That has been our focus from the very outset and will remain so," she said.

Rice made her remarks after the director of operations for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, John Ging, said hundreds of thousands of people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile are affected by the fighting.

"We hear incredibly alarming stories of people having to rely on roots and leaves. This is 2013, and to think that hundreds of thousands of people are living in such desperate and deplorable circumstances, and we can't get in to help them as humanitarian organizations, is just not acceptable," Ging said.

Rice also urged the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan to implement an agreement to stabilize the oil-rich Abyei area that both governments claim, pending a referendum to settle its final status. The presidents of the two countries met in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in early January and reaffirmed their commitment to withdraw their forces from the area and deploy a joint border verification monitoring mechanism. South Sudan won its independence from Sudan in 2011, but a number of border issues remain unresolved.

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