GENEVA — The United Nations said yesterday that it is concerned about the fate of 7,000 Sudanese civilians last seen being forced by authorities to leave the protection of a UN compound in the tense border region between the North and South.
North Sudan authorities have denied requests by the global body to meet with the civilians, who are believed to have been taken to the nearby town of Kadugli in South Kordofan Province last week, said UN spokeswoman Corinne Momal-Vanian.
“There is no certainty on anything for the moment and the mission is asking for access,’’ she said in Geneva.
The civilians had been featured prominently in UN aid agency reports from Sudan in the days before June 20, the day they were allegedly ordered to leave the UN camp. An internal UN report said Sudanese intelligence agents — some posing as Red Crescent workers — told the civilians to go to Kadugli for an address by the local governor and to receive humanitarian aid. The refugees were threatened with forced removal from the camp if they did not comply.
The UN has been cautious about criticizing the north Sudanese government for fear of inflaming relations with Khartoum, on whose goodwill it depends for humanitarian access to the western region of Darfur and parts of the south. With South Sudan due to formally declare independence from the north on July 9, pockets of fighting have broken out between north Sudan government forces and elements of the southern military.
Also yesterday, Sudan’s government and Southern-allied opposition forces in North Sudan signed a framework agreement that called for the two sides to govern contested border states together and for opposition fighters to be absorbed into Sudan’s national army, The New York Times reported. The agreement stopped short of declaring a cease-fire in the Nuba Mountains along the border.