June 26, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Aerial bombardment and artillery have continued in Sudan’s border state of South Kordofan amid reports of civilian causalities, according to the UN.
Meanwhile, mediators of the African Union have intensified efforts to broker an agreement to cease hostilities between the warring sides in South Kordofan, according to a senior official of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
The UN humanitarian office said in its latest report that sporadic air attacks and artillery by Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) of north Sudan had targeted areas inhabited by the non-Arab Nuba population in eastern and southern Nuba Mountains.
Fighting in Sudan’s north-south border state of South Kordofan broke out on 5 June as SAF moved to disarm fighters aligned with South Sudan, which is due to become an independent state on 9 July.
More than 70,000 people fled their homes as the fighting escalated into aerial bombardment and heavy artillery, according to UN estimates, amid reports of widespread atrocities committed by SAF against the Nuba population, which largely sided with South Sudan during the years of Sudan’s civil wars.
Last week the UN condemned what it terms as the targeting of South Kordofan people “along ethnic lines.” It also said that relief efforts are hampered by the government’s restrictions on movement.
Citing sources on the ground, the UN said one woman was killed and four others, including children, sustained injuries as a result of an air attack on Koda area on 22 June.
The UN report pointed out that several rockets fell near the office of the UN Mission in Sudan on Friday. It went on to say that the humanitarian situation remains uncertain due to the restrictions imposed on the movement of aid workers.
The UN Humanitarian office also said that the local authorities are still detaining four southern Sudanese employees of the UN Mission in Sudan since they were arrested on Wednesday by the military intelligence at the airport of South Kordofan’s capital of Kadugli.
In a related development, the secretary-general of the SPLM in north Sudan, Yasir Arman, told Sudan Tribune on Sunday from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa that AU mediators led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki had been engaged in active efforts to broker an agreement to cease hostilities in South Kordofan.
Arman revealed that Mbeki and his aides arranged a direct meeting in Addis Ababa between a delegation of the SPLM in north Sudan led by its chairman Malik Aggar and a government delegation led the presidential assistant Nafi Ali Nafi.
The SPLM official pointed out that the mediation team is striving to bring the two sides to sign a political agreement and another agreement to cease hostilities in Sout Kordofan in the coming few hours.
According to Arman, the SPLM representatives presented three-page paper identifying issues of contention in South Kordofan while the government delegation proposed a two-page paper on the issues. He further added that Mbeki had put forward proposals for a solution and was currently trying to persuade the two sides to sign.
Arman told Sudan Tribune that the talks were focusing on the issues of the transitional areas, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile, as well as on new constitutional arrangements.