Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Khartoum and southern Sudan in search of a demilitarization agreement

The Khartoum government and south Sudan have agreed to establish a demilitarized zone along their common border, said Tuesday the African Union (AU), ten days after entry of the Union Army in the region oil-rich Abyei. The agreement was reached at a meeting between the two parties in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

The Northern forces entered May 21 in the Abyei region, argue that both parties, forcing 80,000 people to flee south. South Sudan to proclaim independence on July 9, overwhelmingly approved by referendum in January, but the issues concerning the border and sharing oil revenues with the North have still not been resolved.

In Addis Ababa, representatives of North and South have agreed to establish a joint body chaired by the ministers of defense, chiefs of staff and heads of intelligence and police of both parties, said the AU. "The agreement establishes a (...) border between North and South Sudan, which must be demilitarized and monitored in common," adds the Union in a statement, without making direct reference to Abyei.

The Ethopie, regarded as impartial by both governments, could send a peacekeeping force for peace in the region. Sudan has also delivered Tuesday to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a letter requesting the end of the UN mission in the country (UNMIS) on July 9, the date set for accession to the independence of Southern Sudan, said a UN official.

The document, signed by the Sudanese foreign minister, was delivered on Tuesday morning to Mr. Ban told the Security Council Chief of Peacekeeping Operations of the UN peacekeeping Alain Le Roy. This request covers only the northern part of the country, which will remain controlled by Khartoum.

South Sudan wants his side not only the maintenance of a UN force, but also an increase in the number of soldiers. International organizations fear a humanitarian catastrophe in the region after the looting and burning last week, which pushed the civilians to flee south. A spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that the town of Abyei was virtually emptied of its population.

"For the moment, we can say that we estimated 60 000 people who fled Abyei to the south," said Mimi Girard, spokesman for the UNHCR in Juba in the south. "Their numbers are growing every day," she added. The International Organization for Migration (IOM), meanwhile, recorded so far 30,642 of those displaced, mostly women, children and the elderly, estimated at 30 000 the number of those n would not have been taken into account in their census.

For the IOM, all these people, most of which are parts of Abyei no personal effect, are in urgent need of shelter, food and sanitation. Humanitarian workers said that heavy rains and a gasoline shortage hampered their movements to meet the refugees. "Vehicles get stuck more and more," and says Girard.

With approximately 10,000 peacekeepers and a thousand civilian personnel, the UNMIS was deployed to Sudan in March 2005 to support the implementation of the peace agreement (CPA) that ended two decades of civil war between northern, Muslim, and South, mostly Christian and animist. On 27 April the Security Council of the United Nations had extended its mandate until July 9, when the independence of South Sudan, which had voted in January to an overwhelming majority in favor of secession .

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