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Thousands Of Sudanese Driven From Homes By Clashes

THOUSANDS OF SUDANESE DRIVEN FROM HOMES BY RENEWED CLASHES IN SOUTH - UN

New York, May 12 2004 4:00PM

The intensified fighting between Sudanese Government-backed militias and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) has driven up to 100,000 people from the Shilluk Kingdom of southern Sudan, with about half of them fleeing into areas that are inaccessible to United Nations humanitarian workers, a UN spokesman said today.

Armed groups have raped their victims and looted property since the fighting escalated in early March, while villages have been burned to the ground, destroying schools and clinics, spokesman Fred Eckhard told journalists in New York.

About 50,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) had converged in the city of Malakal, but the others were dispersed elsewhere, he said.

A similar battle by Government-backed militias identifying themselves as Arab against black Sudanese in the western Darfur region has forced an estimated 1 million from their homes and driven 110,000 across the border into eastern Chad.

Peace talks between the Arab-dominated Government and the SPLA of the black south have taken place in Kenya. The sticking points have been disagreements over the status of key areas of south-central Sudan: the fruitful Nuba Mountains, the southern Blue Nile and oil-rich Abyei, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in March.

2004-05-12 00:00:00.000

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