Sudan grants U.N. limited access to tense border area

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 30, 2011 2:30 PM
Sudan grants U.N. limited access to tense border area

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Sudan's government is allowing limited U.N. access to Kadugli, capital of a tense border state where fighting and looting has taken place ahead of southern secession, a U.N. spokesman said Thursday.

Still, unhindered access to the state capital of South Kordofan remains out of reach, spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters.

South Sudan is due to become an independent African country on July 9 after voting for secession in a January referendum agreed under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war.

Tensions have flared in South Kordofan, an oil-producing state which lies in northern territory and will be home to much of the country's future oil wealth after the southern secession. The northern military has been fighting southern-aligned armed groups.

All U.N. agency offices had been looted of their stocks and office equipment in Kadugli, with the exception of the UNICEF children's foundation and another agency, Haq said, citing information from the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

While the government of Sudan has granted access to parts of Kadugli town, "unhindered access to the affected population continues to be denied," Haq said.

"U.N. agencies continue to discuss the pressing need to have access to other areas with the government of Sudan," he said.

Southern Kordofan is important to the north because it has the most productive oil fields that will remain under Khartoum's control after the split. The south could take as much as 75 percent of Sudan's 500,000 barrels per day of oil output.

It also borders the disputed Abyei territory and Darfur, a western region that is the scene of another insurgency.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a U.S.-drafted resolution authorizing deployment of 4,200 Ethiopian troops to the Abyei region for a six-month period.

(Editing by Philip Barbara)