`Sudan conflict severely affecting 250,000 people`
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Last Updated: Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 09:50
  
Khartoum: The United Nations has said a quarter of a million people have been severely affected by the conflict in Sudan's southern border states to which the government continues to deny the world body access.

"We... consider that there are about a quarter of a million people who have been severely affected" by the fighting in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, Mark Cutts, the UN humanitarian agency (OCHA)'s head of office in Sudan, told reporters in Khartoum yesterday.

"Our main concern is for populations that are completely cut off from any relief supplies coming in from outside," he added.

Fighting in the border state of South Kordofan first erupted in early June, just weeks before the formal independence of the south, between the Sudanese army and fighters aligned to the SPLA, the ex-southern rebels turned regular army of South Sudan.

The conflict spilled over three months later into nearby Blue Nile state, another peripheral area where Khartoum moved to assert its authority in the wake of southern secession.

Cutts listed severe disruptions to the farming cycle -- which is driving the region's growing food insecurity -- as well as interruptions to basic services such as hospitals, health centres and schools, as examples of the conflict's social impact.

The UN children's fund (UNICEF) said in a separate report that cultivation levels in some areas were only 23 percent of those in previous years and that the "devastating impact on civilians -- many of them children" was as keenly felt as ever.

"Food shortages and worsening nutrition levels seem certain to have a negative impact on morbidities and mortalities among children," UNICEF said.

It added that more than 50 youngsters were reported killed or wounded by aerial bombardment or crossfire.

Despite concerns about the worsening humanitarian situation, the Sudanese government has barred international aid workers, including all UN agencies, from accessing the region, a problem highlighted yesterday by the acting UN humanitarian coordinator in Sudan.

PTI


First Published: Wednesday, December 14, 2011, 09:30


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