UN: 800 killed in Southern Sudan so far this year

AP News
Posted: Apr 13, 2011 10:30 AM
UN: 800 killed in Southern Sudan so far this year

The U.N. said Wednesday that more than 800 people have been killed and 94,000 displaced because of violence in Southern Sudan this year. A top official warned of a humanitarian crisis if the violence continues.

The violence followed an early January referendum that saw the region vote to secede from the north. Southern Sudan is slated to become the world's newest country in July. But since the euphoria of that vote, the region has seen heavy violence.

Lise Grande, the top U.N. humanitarian official in Southern Sudan, said there have been 151 incidents of violence and that the number of internally displaced people has doubled in the last month.

Most of the clashes have been tribal violence. But militant groups have also battled the government, and Grande said rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army killed four people in recent days.

"We are worried that we have seven militias that are active. With inter-communal violence continuing and the Lord's Resistance Army rebels active in Western Equatoria state, that is not a good picture," Grande said.

Grande warned that unless the rising level of insecurity is averted, the south is likely to suffer a widening humanitarian crisis. Most of the hardest hit areas have been declared "no-go zones" by the government.

"If security is going to improve, then the emergency operation will be stronger," Grande said. "If the security continues to deteriorate as we have seen recently, then we have to expect that we are going to have more people who are going to need emergency aid."

Southern Sudan is scheduled to become its own nation on July 9. Grande said she hopes the euphoria of that day helps move the region in a peaceful direction.

Some of Southern Sudan's most serious violence has come around the region of Abyei. That region has seen a buildup of military assets from both the north and south. The future of Abyei, which had been promised its own independence referendum before it was canceled, is being negotiated by the north and south. Both sides stake claim to it.