25 January 2013

Sudan: U.S. Rice Calls for Cessation of Hostilities in South Kordofan

Khartoum — U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, called for an international support to a cessation of hostilities between Sudanese army and rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

"It is crucial that there is outspoken support in the region for a cessation of hostilities and international humanitarian access" to the rebel held area in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, Rice said in statements to the AFP released on Friday.

The call comes before a meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council on Friday 25 January to discuss Sudan - South Sudan process but also the process the talks between Khartoum government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement - North (SPLM-N).

She further said the Sudanese government must negotiate unconditionally with the rebels to achieve "real security".

Khartoum refuses to engage talks with the rebel group saying Juba has to disengage with the rebel group first and then talks can be considered. The two sides also failed to implement a humanitarian deal struck in August last year due to their disagreement on how to manage food distribution and humanitarian access.

Rice stressed that the this African Union and the United Nations have to be involved in such deal.

In accordance with the UN resolution 2046 the Sudanese government and SPLM-N have to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the conflict in the Two Area.

SPLM-N Secretary General Yasir Arman said they are ready to sign a cessation of hostilities deal with the government, but asked Khartoum to allow the access of humanitarian assistance to their areas first.

The rebels say they control 40% of the border with the South Sudan in the two states and point out that the buffer zone cannot be operationalised without such agreement.

UN agencies estimate that some 220,000 Sudanese refugees are in Ethiopia and South Sudan since the eruption of hostilities in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan in June 2011.

It is also estimated that over 700,000 people in the two Sudanese states are affected by the severe humanitarian situation.

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