US: Sudan and South Sudan Want to Avoid 'All-Out War'

Map of Sudan and South Sudan
Map of Sudan and South Sudan

The United States says Sudan and South Sudan want to find a way to avoid "all-out war," following violence across their border.  The two countries have been unable to resolve disputes over borders, oil and citizenship issues stemming from the south's independence last July.

After talks with officials from both governments, U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan Princeton Lyman says the two sides realize how close they are to a resumption of full-scale war, and how costly that would be.

"In the discussions I have had in both Khartoum and Juba, I can say with confidence that virtually everyone I have talked to has said, 'Look, we don't want to go to all-out war with the other.  We need to find a way out,'" said Lyman.

But Lyman says there remain serious disagreements about what is needed to end the conflict.

"It's not going to be easy," he said. "Emotions are running very, very high.  But I think the bottom line here, the basic line is that both countries are arguing about security."

Months of hostility over oil pipeline and port fees peaked last week when South Sudan fighters took control of the key oil town of Heglig.

Speaking to reporters by telephone from Khartoum, Lyman says South Sudan was surprised by international condemnation of its move because officials in Juba maintain they have always claimed Heglig.  Lyman says that was not apparent in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended 21 years of fighting and led to southern independence.  

"So people did assume, as we did, that there was at least, if not an officially-recognized-by-both-sides border, there was a border which was crossed," he said. "They don't see it that way.  But the point - and they have now acknowledged this - [is] that you don't settle disputed border areas by occupying them."

Before withdrawing from Heglig, Lyman says South Sudan wants assurances that there will be no more attacks by Sudanese-backed militias or Sudanese bombing raids as well as the withdrawal of northern troops from the town of Abyei.

Lyman says Khartoum's patience over the occupation of Heglig appears to be growing thin, with President Omar al-Bashir's vow on Thursday to teach the south "a lesson by force."

Part of the instability along the border is continuing violence in the provinces of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, where many people fought alongside the south for independence from Khartoum, but remain part of Sudan.

"Across that border, there has been support for proxies and there is spillover from the Southern Kordofan/Blue Nile wars," said Lyman. "And that is creating a series of clashes and conflicts across the border as each tries to secure its own interests as they see them along that border."

Humanitarian officials say widespread hunger in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile is worsening.  The African Union, Arab League and United Nations have a joint proposal to allow aid shipments to the region.

Lyman says Khartoum agrees in principle to the plan, and that he is pushing hard to overcome remaining questions about how parts of the proposal would be carried out.

"I am also hoping that with the announcement of a humanitarian program, we will also almost by default get a cessation of hostilities in that area, and that hopefully creates a better atmosphere for peace," he said.

Lyman says international mediators are working with both governments to return to a previously agreed on demilitarized and monitored 20-kilometer buffer zone to settle on a final border between them.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: almoros
April 20, 2012 9:17 AM
The unreliable UN and the world!

by: Akol Liai Mager
April 19, 2012 6:52 PM
South Sudan government must dispatch its foreign Minister to New York's Un Headquarters with the Map of Sudan 1956 and those several Khartoum-created maps and would clearly explain them to the UNSC members and the rests.
Sudan's 1956 border was not created, nor agreed by Southern Sudanese, but yet we stand by it as a binding piece of paper. Also, Hague's ruling in Abyei Case did mean the demarcation of the border between North and the South, but between Abyei and its neigbouring States.

by: Anyangaliec
April 19, 2012 6:22 PM
South Sudan is very much eager to avoid an all out war, but, on the other hand,the puppets in Northern Sudan are very much willing to escalates it into an all out war by any means. And I hope the world could see that!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs