News / Africa

UN Blames Khartoum for Bombing of Southern Refugee Camp

Margaret Besheer

The United Nations says it has confirmed that Sudan was responsible for the bombing of a refugee camp in South Sudan this week. Sudan denies the allegation.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Hervé Ladsous told the U.N. Security Council Friday that peacekeepers in South Sudan confirmed the attack on the Yida refugee camp. The camp houses some 10,000 persons displaced from the fighting in Sudan's Southern Kordofan state.

"Yesterday [Thursday], UNMISS confirmed that the Sudan Armed Forces dropped at least two bombs near the Yida refugee camp and in the vicinity of an SPLA camp along the border between Unity State and Southern Kordofan, with unknown casualties. There are reports - still unconfirmed - of an additional two bombs dropped in the area,” said Ladsous.

Sudan’s Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman said the situation in Blue Nile is “absolutely stable” and denied that his government’s forces had bombed the Yida camp.

Through a translator, he said, “In addition, with respect to bombings, there have been no bombings in the refugee camps on the border between the north and south. Therefore, we are dealing here with half truths, in fact, fabricated truths, fabricated by the media across the board, and we hope the Security Council will not base its decisions on false information, as the council has mandated a mission in [South] Sudan capable of verifying this information.”

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, said Ambassador Osman “blatantly lied” before the council, a situation she called “very disturbing." She appealed to both Sudan and South Sudan to show maximum restraint.

“In the first instance, the government of Sudan needs to halt all offensive actions against the south - immediately. And the south needs to have the wisdom and the restraint not to take the bait and not to respond in kind. A resumption of full-scale direct conflict between the two parties will serve no one’s interest, and puts the future of both countries at grave risk,” said Rice.

South Sudan’s ambassador called on Khartoum to desist from further military activities, both north and south of the border, and to avoid an unnecessary escalation of tensions.

Sudan and South Sudan have several unresolved disputes over borders and oil revenue-sharing stemming from the south's split from the north earlier this year. The countries accuse each other of supporting rebels inside the other's territory, and this week, South Sudan President Salva Kiir accused his northern counterpart, Omar al-Bashir, of planning to invade the south.

The peacekeeping chief, Ladsous, also informed the council that the U.N. mission in South Sudan is working to verify reports of a cross-border attack Friday by Sudan's military in Kuek, in the oil fields of Upper Nile state. He said some 20 casualties were reported. Sudan has denied responsibility for the attack.

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