Monday, April 19, 2004

Sudan: people displaced by fighting in the south

An IGAD mission has confirmed that at least 70,000 people have been displaced by a month of fighting in the Shilluk kingdom, in the Upper Nile region. Though the government of Sudan says its forces are not involved ...
U.N. officials say the violence pits army troops and militia loyal to the government against southern rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), which has been fighting for greater autonomy from the Arabic-speaking north for 20 years.

But IGAD said its VMT teams had seen evidence of violence committed deliberately against civilians.
According to Ben Parker, a U.N. spokesman, the militias who oppose the rebels have carried out most of the attacks.
"The most serious fighting that has affected civilians have been from militia targeting civilian settlements," Parker said by telephone from Sudan . "Fighting between government troops and SPLA is a much smaller element in the conflict as far as we know."
The government and the SPLA/M have signed a ceasefire which is supposed to hold for as long as negotiations continue in Kenya. And though the talks have stalled, they're by no means over.

IGAD = Inter-Governmental Authority on Development
VMT = verification monitoring team