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MRG expresses serious concern on humanitarian and human rights situation in South Kordofan, Sudan

22 June 2011

Minority Rights Group International on Wednesday expressed serious concern regarding the worsening situation of Nuba people trapped and displaced in recent heavy fighting in South Kordofan.

Fighting during the last couple of weeks in South Kordofan has left approximately 60,000 displaced and there are reports emerging of serious human rights violations directed at Nuba people, MRG says.

MRG calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities in South Kordofan and a halt to the targetting of civilians. The escalation in tensions is occuring against the backdrop of South Sudan becoming independent next month; South Kordofan will remain with the northern portion of the country.

The fighting started early this month when the Sudanese government started to disarm fighters in South Kordofan who had fought with the South's Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA). Many of these fighters are Nuba.

Meanwhile, with regard to another region experiencing significant levels of fighting, namely Abyei, South African President Thabo Mbeki recently announced to the UN Security Council that a cease-fire agreement had been secured between the two warring sides. The agreement reportedly involves both sides pulling out their troops from Abyei.

MRG says that while cease-fire agreements are important in both Abyei and South Kordofan to stop civilian casualties and help humanitarian aid reach affected communities, they have to be properly implemented and longer term measures are needed for the stability of both Sudan and its new neighbour, South Sudan.

On 9 July, South Sudan will become the world's newest nation-state after its population voted for independence from the North in a referendum earlier this year. In a briefing paper launched just last week, MRG warned that ethnic tensions fueled by unequal access to resources and political influence in South Sudan could increase violence and threaten the future of the new country.

‘The Government of South Sudan will need to focus on political representation for minorities and an equitable distribution of resources in order to alleviate ethnic tensions that threaten long-term stability,' says Chris Chapman, Head of Conflict Prevention at MRG.

Sudan was ranked second in MRG's annual Peoples under Threat table for 2011.