Sudan bombing ‘outrages’ UN's Navi Pillay

Displaced woman and her child from the Nuba Mountains in Sudan wait outside the Yida refugee camp registration centre in Yida, South Sudan on 26 April 2012 There are warnings the approaching rainy season will worsen the situation in border camps

The UN human rights chief has condemned Sudan's bombing of South Sudan, carried out despite a UN resolution demanding an end to hostilities.

Navi Pillay, on a visit to Juba, said she was "outraged and saddened" by the continued aerial bombardments.

Sudan's leader Omar al-Bashir warned on Thursday that no organisation had the right to dictate to his country, especially when it was threatened.

South Sudan seceded last July as part of a deal to end years of civil war.

But disputes, especially over oil, stemming from the secession led to clashes last month and fears of a return to all-out war.

The UN resolution passed last week threatens sanctions if both sides fail to negotiate.

They have both agreed to adhere to an African Union roadmap under which they must restart negotiations and reach an agreement on outstanding disagreements within three months.

But on Wednesday, South Sudan accused its neighbour of several more bombing raids. Khartoum said it had the right to respond to acts of aggression.

'Civilians at risk'

"Twice in the past six months I have publicly condemned the indiscriminate use of aerial bombardment by the Sudanese armed forces inside South Sudan, today I condemn it again," Ms Pillay told journalists at the end of her first visit to South Sudan.

Main disputes between Sudans

map
  • Transit fees South Sudan should pay Sudan to use its oil pipelines
  • Demarcating the border
  • Both sides claim Abyei
  • The rights of each other's citizens now in a foreign country - there are estimated to be 500,000 southerners in Sudan and 80,000 Sudanese in South Sudan
  • Each accuses the other of supporting rebel groups on its territory

"I am saddened that such attacks take place where civilians are at risk and endangered despite last week's Security Council resolution."

She also called for a human rights monitoring mechanism in the border regions.

Aid agencies have warned of a deteriorating situation along the border - with the number of those fleeing bombings increasing.

There is also a surge in the number of refugees crossing over the border from South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan.

Conflicts have erupted in these states over the last year where communities traditionally allied to the South found themselves north of the border after Juba's independence.

Mr Bashir warned that if security matters with South Sudan were not first resolved, then there would be no negotiations with Juba over oil, trade or citizenship.

Both sides accuse the other of backing proxy armies - which they deny.

"We will defend ourselves and, as I said to you before, we will chop off any hand that dares to harm Sudan. And if someone dares to raise their eyes to Sudan, we will blind them," President Bashir said.

He made his comments to a group of oil and mining workers marking the "liberation" of the Heglig oil region, which South Sudan occupied for 10 days last month.

The president said Sudan did not seek aggression but would respond in kind and would not be intimidated by threats from the UN or AU.

"We will implement what we deem it right to implement and will reject what we do not want to implement," he said.

South Sudan, which took most of the former united Sudan's oil reserves when it seceded, relies on pipelines to seaports in Sudan to export it - and stopped pumping oil in January in a row over transit fees.

Mr Bashir said that, with the closure of the border between the neighbours, it was South Sudan's economy that was suffering most.

"We know that we control their economy - we have their oil, their sugar, their bread, we have everything they need and therefore they cannot fight us."

Last year Southern Sudanese voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence from Sudan in a referendum promised as part of a peace deal in 2005 which put an end to the 22-year civil war in which some 1.5 million people died.

Map showing position of oilfileds in Sudan, source: Drilling info international

Both Sudan and the South are reliant on their oil revenues, which account for 98% of South Sudan's budget. But the two countries cannot agree how to divide the oil wealth of the former united state. Some 75% of the oil lies in the South but all the pipelines run north. It is feared that disputes over oil could lead the two neighbours to return to war.

Satellite image showing geography of Sudan, source: Nasa

Although they were united for many years, the two Sudans were always very different. The great divide is visible even from space, as this Nasa satellite image shows. The northern states are a blanket of desert, broken only by the fertile Nile corridor. South Sudan is covered by green swathes of grassland, swamps and tropical forest.

Map showing Ethnicity of Sudan, source:

Sudan's arid north is mainly home to Arabic-speaking Muslims. But in South Sudan there is no dominant culture. The Dinkas and the Nuers are the largest of more than 200 ethnic groups, each with its own languages and traditional beliefs, alongside Christianity and Islam.

Map showing infant Mortality in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

The health inequalities in Sudan are illustrated by infant mortality rates. In South Sudan, one in 10 children die before their first birthday. Whereas in the more developed northern states, such as Gezira and White Nile, half of those children would be expected to survive.

Map showing percentage of households using improved water and sanitation in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

The gulf in water resources between north and south is stark. In Khartoum, River Nile, and Gezira states, two-thirds of people have access to piped drinking water and pit latrines. In the south, boreholes and unprotected wells are the main drinking sources. More than 80% of southerners have no toilet facilities whatsoever.

Map showing percentage of who complete primary school education in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

Throughout the two Sudans, access to primary school education is strongly linked to household earnings. In the poorest parts of the south, less than 1% of children finish primary school. Whereas in the wealthier north, up to 50% of children complete primary level education.

Map showing percentage of households with poor food consumption in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

Conflict and poverty are the main causes of food insecurity in both countries. In Sudan, many of the residents of war-affected Darfur and the border states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, depend on food aid. The UN said about 2.8m people in South Sudan would require food aid in 2013. The northern states tend to be wealthier, more urbanised and less reliant on agriculture.

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