Africa

Sudan: UN authorises peacekeepers for Abyei

  • 27 June 2011
  • From the section Africa
A truck piled with looted items in the disputed Sudanese town of Abyei, 28 May 2011
More than 70,000 people have fled the fighting in Abyei

The UN Security Council has voted unanimously to send a 4,200-strong Ethiopian peacekeeping force to the disputed Sudanese territory of Abyei.

The force will monitor the withdrawal of Sudanese troops from Abyei, as well as human rights in the region.

Northern forces occupied Abyei in May, heightening tensions ahead of South Sudan's independence on 9 July.

Aid workers also report continued bombing in South Kordofan, which borders both Abyei and South Sudan.

The clashes have raised fears of a renewal of Sudan's 21-year, north-south conflict.

More than 170,000 people have fled the fighting in the two regions.

'Unauthorised elements'

The resolution establishes a new UN peacekeeping force, called the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei, or UNISFA.

It comes a week after northern and southern leaders signed a deal in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to demilitarise Abyei and let Ethiopian troops monitor the peace.

Sudan's ambassador to the UN, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, said northern forces would withdraw as soon as the Ethiopian troops had been deployed.

French UN ambassador, Gerard Araud, called the force's mandate "robust" .

The resolution also orders UNISFA to protect civilians and to "protect the Abyei area from incursions by unauthorised elements".

Humanitarian sources have told the BBC that five bombs were dropped from an Antonov aircraft on the village of Kurchi in South Kordofan.

Sixteen people were killed - including an eight-month-old baby and a three-year-old, they say.

The BBC has seen disturbing photos of the dead - in some cases their bodies torn apart by the bombs.

Northern forces have been accused of bombing parts of South Kordofan inhabited by ethnic Nubans, who largely supported the south during the civil war.

The fighting broke out after pro-southern groups were ordered to disarm after Ahmed Haroun was declared the winner of recent governorship elections.

Mr Haroun is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.

Over the weekend, Mr Haroun said the situation was now safe and people have started to return to their homes.

However, human rights group Amnesty International accused the authorities of forcing the displaced to go home despite continuing violence.

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