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UN Begins Medical Assistance In Southern Sudan

UN Begins Medical Assistance And Other Help To Victims Of Fighting In Southern Sudan

New York, Nov 30 2006 7:00PM

The United Nations has started delivering medical assistance to more than 300 civilians who were injured, some badly, during heavy fighting earlier this week in the southern Sudanese provincial capital of Malakal.

The UN is also preparing to offer food, water and shelter to those residents who fled the town to escape the fighting between Sudanese armed forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), which media reports say has left many people dead.

The security situation inside Malakal has largely returned to normal, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported, after the intervention of a joint delegation of senior officials from the Mission, the Sudanese armed forces and the SPLA. UNMIS peacekeepers have been deployed in the town.

But the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said tensions among armed groups in Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile state, remains high and sporadic gunfire and looting of shops and homes is continuing.

UN staff and officials from humanitarian agencies have begun assessing civilian casualties and infrastructure damage, as well as the availability of food, clean water and medical supplies in the days ahead. David Gressly, the Deputy Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, will also lead an OCHA delegation to Malakal tomorrow for an assessment visit.

“Now that the fighting has subsided, we have begun to provide immediate life-saving medical support to the civilian victims of the violence and also assess what else needs to be done,” Mr. Gressly said.

Yesterday, in a statement released by his spokesman, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the clashes a serious violation of the security arrangements of last year’s comprehensive peace agreement that ended a 21-year civil war in southern Sudan.

He appealed to the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan, which were both established in the wake of the power-sharing agreement, “to make all possible efforts to contain the situation.”

An emergency meeting yesterday of the ceasefire joint monitoring committee – which comprises representatives of UNMIS, the SPLA and the Sudanese armed forces – condemned the violence, demanded an immediate ceasefire by both sides and called for the redeployment of troops to their respective positions before the clashes.

The committee also decided that a joint investigation will take place to determine who was responsible for breaching the peace agreement and then bring them to account.

Some civilian UN staff have been temporarily relocated from Malakal to other locations in southern Sudan.

Ends

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