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Rebels barring access to Sudan conflict zones: UN

21 june 2013, 17:33
0
©AFP
©AFP
Rebels battling government forces in two southern states in Sudan are holding up relief and medical supplies into areas they control, AFP reports citing the UN humanitarian chief.

But a Sudanese rebel coalition is ready to accept a ceasefire in the two-year-old conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states so help can reach civilians, Valerie Amos told reporters.

The United Nations and western countries have said fighting between the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) and the Sudanese army triggered a major health and food crisis in Kordofan and Blue Nile.

The Sudanese military has staged regular air raids on rebel areas in recent months. The SPLM-North has in turn shelled the Kordofan capital of Kadugli.

The UN estimates one million people in the two states are affected by the conflict and more than 200,000 have fled to neighboring South Sudan and Ethiopia.

The United Nations wants to bring medicine and food from Sudan into rebel-controlled areas. Amos said the government was ready to consider the operation, which it has blocked for several months, but the SPLM-North would not agree unless supplies came "across border" from South Sudan.

Amos blamed a "breakdown in trust" between the two sides.

She added that the deadlock was also holding up a campaign to vaccinate 150,000 children.

Amos said the Sudan Revolutionary Front, a coalition of anti-government groups in Kordofan and Darfur that includes the SPLM-North, had written in the past week and "indicated its willingness to work with us and the African union to reach civilians with a temporary cessation of hostilities."

UN officials were working on the proposal and hoped to hold talks with the rebels and government in Addis Ababa this month at least on the vaccination campaign, Amos added.

Amos said there has been improved access to government-controlled zones since January.

Khartoum accuses South Sudan of backing the SPLM-N, a charge the South denies.

Sudan severely restricts access to rebel-hit Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, making independent verification of its claims difficult.

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