Authorities in north Sudan have allowed aid agencies to visit their looted offices in the town of Kadugli, where clashes in recent weeks have driven thousands from their homes ahead of the south's imminent declaration of independence.
The United Nations said Thursday that the government in Khartoum allowed the aid groups to re-enter the capital of South Kordofan province _ some 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of the provisional border _ on Tuesday "after weeks of requests" to inspect the offices.
"Most of the offices and agency guesthouses were severely damaged or destroyed," the global body noted, without saying who was to blame.
Fighting between the north Sudan military and elements linked to the south's Sudan People's Liberation Army has caused a humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan, particularly around Kadugli and the town of Abyei further southwest. Thousands of civilians have been driven from their homes, many of them in need of food, water and shelter, according to the U.N.
The north refused to let aid agencies visit other parts of Kadugli to meet with 7,000 civilians who were ordered by authorities last week to leave the safety of a nearby U.N. compound.
Some aid officials have expressed concern that the civilians _ ethnic Nuba considered by Khartoum to be allied with the south _ are being mistreated.
Humanitarian groups say the situation in the border region may worsen when the south formally declares independence July 9 and U.N. peacekeepers are pulled out of the country with several ethnic and economic disputes still unresolved.
The U.N. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang, said Wednesday that aid agencies are struggling to get enough foreign staff into Sudan as the government in Khartoum continues to hold back visas.