Sudanese forced from homes after bombing


ABOUT 3,500 people have been forced from their homes along the border between north and south Sudan after their villages were hit by North Sudanese Army bombers, says the International Rescue Committee (IRC), as tensions mount ahead of a January 9th vote on independence for the south.

The displaced began crossing into North Aweil county in northern Bahr el-Ghazal state on November 12th, and have since been arriving in waves at a makeshift camp in the town of Jaac following a two-day journey across rivers and thick forest. The new arrivals are ethnic Dinka who had been living in border villages in south Darfur.

“The latest violence and displacement are troubling,” says Susan Purdin, the IRC’s country director in southern Sudan. “With the referendum a month away, these incidents raise political tension and distrust on both sides of the border.”

During a multi-agency needs assessment last week, Sudanese army planes circled above the camp where the displaced people were staying, but there was no attack.

North Sudan has been accused of at least two bomb attacks on the south in the past month, with relations between both sides at a new low since a 2005 peace deal ended more than two decades of civil war in Africa’s largest country.

In the latest incident, the south alleged that northern-backed militias attacked and killed 10 soldiers and two civilians in the oil-producing Unity state in the south last week. The north’s government in Khartoum denied that it had any troops in the area, but south Sudan demanded a UN probe on Tuesday into this and other incidents.

“We call on the Security Council of the United Nations ... to form a team of investigation that will also involve the structures for ceasefire implementation between the parties so as to prevent a return of Sudan to war,” said Pagan Amum, secretary general of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.

“The National Congress Party is implementing a plan to take Sudan back to war so as to avoid the implementation of CPA, particularly the conduct of the referendum on self-determination,” he said, referring to the north’s ruling party.

Under the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, southerners will be asked to choose between the options of union or secession in the January 9th vote, registration for which ended yesterday.