17 February 2013

Sudanese Army Bombard Blue Nile Villages , SPLM-N Rebels

Khartoum — Sudanese army resumed air and ground attacks in Blue Nile state forcing over 8,000 civilians to flee their villages, said Yasir Arman secretary general of the rebel Sudan people's Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) on Sunday.

According to Arman, the attacks took place on Sunday morning in Muffa village and surrounding area 21 kilometres southwest of Kurmuk near the Ethiopian border. He underlined that the military operation had begun on 14 February.

He further said that around 8,000 people were forced to move to the Ethiopian and South Sudan borders, adding that some other civilians reached the Gouz Village in southwest Blue Nile on Sunday morning.

Sudanese army did not issue statements about these attacks or possible raids on the positions of the SPLM-N fighters in the Blue Nile.

The SPLM-N secretary general pointed out that such attacks "resulted in the displacement of more than 70% of the inhabitants of the rural Blue Nile, and as of now, nearly 200,000 from the civilian populations are refugees in Ethiopia and South Sudan".

Arman who is currently in the United States of America to meet Congressmen and civil society groups further called on the African Union and the UN Security Council "to discharge their responsibility to protect civilians, and to open access for humanitarian assistance".

The African Union mediation team called on the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N to meet in Addis Ababa on 15 March to hold direct political talks to end the conflict in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

The two parties failed to implement a humanitarian agreement they reached last August following a proposal made by the UN agencies, African Union and Arab league to provide food in the rebel controlled areas.

Arman said these attacks come in line with "scorched earth policy" already implemented by the government in Darfur. He also blamed the international community for not taking energetic measures to bring Khartoum to allow humanitarian access to the affected civilians.

"If we do not call that a war crime, what do we call it in international humanitarian law?", he wondered.

Khartoum says it wants to control the whole humanitarian operation and accuse the SPLM-N of intending to benefit from the food to feed its troupes. The tripartite initiative however provides that food distribution will be controlled by African and Arab monitors.

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