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Sudan reiterates rejection to authorise aid in war zones

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January 20, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government has reaffirmed its rejection at any attempt to deliver aid in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states outside the purview of its authority.

Khartoum refuses to allow foreign aid groups into the two states on the borders with South Sudan, where its army has been fighting rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) since last year.

According to the United Nations (UN) humanitarian chief, Valery Amos, food insecurity and malnutrition have reached "alarming" levels in areas controlled by the SPLM-N in the two states. Amos visited Sudan last month and requested the authorities to allow aid groups into the regions, but Khartoum rejected the request, citing security concerns.

The US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, this month called for putting pressure on Khartoum to authorize humanitarian assistance in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, prompting the government to accuse her of wanting to feed the rebels.

"Conflict has affected more than 500,000 people, and if there is not a substantial new inflow of aid by March of this year, the situation in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile will reach Stage 4 of an emergency, which is one step short of full scale famine," Rice said.

Princeton Lyman, the US special envoy to Sudan, warned during his visit to South Africa this week of a humanitarian disaster in the two states.

Another US official, quoted on condition of anonymity by the United Arab Emirates based The National newspaper, said that his country is “actively planning” to deliver aid in the two states.

“We are simply not going to sit back and watch while 100,000 people starve to death," he said.

But Khartoum has reiterated its rejection at any US attempt to exceed its authority.

In statements carried on Friday by Sudan’s official news agency SUNA, the Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Suliman Abdul Rahman cast doubts on the information cited by Rice on the situation of the population in rebel controlled areas.

The Sudanese official demanded that Rice reveals the source of her information on the humanitarian situation in the SPLM-N controlled areas. He also said that the US should clearly explain the motives behind its calls for delivering aid without the involvement of the local authorities.

Abdul Rahman stressed that Khartoum would not allow the scenarios that protracted the war in South Sudan to be replicated in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

UN agencies estimate that some 417,000 civilian were forced to flee the war zones in the two states. It is also estimated that over 80,000 refugees are now in the neighbouring South Sudan.

Clashes broke out in South Kordofan over allegation of fraud in regional elections and fears of forced disarmament of the SPLM-N fighters who fought alongside neighbouring South Sudan during the war against the north.