Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

Sudan and South Sudan: Violence on both sides of the border continues to displace civilians

Publisher Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC)
Publication Date 11 November 2011
Cite as Norwegian Refugee Council/Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (NRC/IDMC), Sudan and South Sudan: Violence on both sides of the border continues to displace civilians, 11 November 2011, available at: [accessed 27 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Ongoing fighting on both sides of the newly-established border between Sudan and South Sudan continues to displace civilians and threaten stability in the region. The countries have blamed each other for violence on their respective sides since South Sudan became independent in July 2011.

The government of Sudan has accused South Sudan of supporting rebels on the northern side of the border, in the states of South Kordofan, where fighting has been ongoing since June, and in Blue Nile which has seen fighting since September. On 5 November, Sudan submitted a complaint against South Sudan to the UN Security Council, accusing it of providing rebels with "anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles as well as with ammunition, landmines and mortars". Sudan has imposed restrictions on humanitarian access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile citing security concerns, including the presence of landmines and the movements of rebel groups. Humanitarian organisations estimate that over 200,000 people have either been displaced or severely affected by the conflict in South Kordofan. The UN estimates that 28,500 Sudanese from Blue Nile have fled to Ethiopia and that 19,500 others have taken shelter among communities along the border.

Meanwhile, the US government condemned the "indiscriminate aerial bombings of civilian targets" in late October and in early November by Sudan government forces fighting rebels in its territory, saying the bombings increase the potential of direct confrontation between the two countries. Negotiations to resolve the fighting have failed, despite mediation by the African Union led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, and then the intervention of Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi.

The government of South Sudan has denied providing support to rebels north of the border, and has repeatedly accused Sudan of supporting rebels on its side, in Upper Nile and Unity states. The most recent fighting in Unity state took place on 29 October, after the rebel SSLA (South Sudan Liberation Army) warned the UN and humanitarian organisations to leave the area for their own safety. This put at risk displaced communities who depend on aid for survival, and troops with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were deployed to help local authorities deal with the aftermath of the attacks and to monitor the situation. In addition to ongoing internal displacement within Unity state, the UN has reported more than 20,000 people fleeing into the state from South Kordofan in Sudan. Humanitarian aid organisations are concerned that "the number of people arriving to Unity might double before the end of the year if fighting continues in South Kordofan".

Violence in the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei has also caused internal displacement, as Sudan and South Sudan have yet to resolve issues over borders and revenues from oil. The UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) was established and deployed in June 2011 after violence displaced more than 110,000 people. Since July, 75 per cent of oil fields have been located on the South Sudan side, but South Sudan cannot export oil without using Sudan's refineries and pipelines to the Red Sea. On 4 November, the UN Security Council called on both countries to withdraw their forces from Abyei, facilitate the safe return of IDPs, and enable continuous humanitarian access to the area.

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