U.N. Pulls Staff from Sudanese City

From The New York Times, June 12, 2011:

U.N. Pulls Staff from Sudanese City

The United Nations has begun pulling nonessential staff members from the restive Sudanese state of Southern Kordofan, even as it sends more peacekeepers there to protect civilians, officials said Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese president, Omar al-Bashir, met with his southern counterpart, Salva Kiir, in Ethiopia, alongside Ethiopia’s president and Thabo Mbeki, the former president of South Africa, to begin talks aimed at resolving the border dispute.

Heavy fighting erupted in Kadugli, the capital of Southern Kordofan, a week ago, one of two border areas where the northern Sudanese government has deployed troops in recent weeks ahead of a planned split of north and south into separate countries next month.

Humanitarian officials said Sunday that the situation in Kadugli was deteriorating.

“The troop capacity is stretched to the limit,” said Hua Jiang, a spokeswoman for the United Nations in Sudan. “The troops that we have there are not enough to secure the whole area.”

She said a contingent of Bangladeshi peacekeepers had been brought to the region from elsewhere in the country.

The United Nations compound in Kadugli seemed to be at risk. A United Nations humanitarian official said that the compound had five days of food rations left, and a security report issued Saturday said the peacekeeping force “can no longer guarantee the safety of some of its national staff.”

The report said that up to 60 staff members were stranded in central Kadugli, and the local government had not allowed the United Nations to take them to its compound on the city’s outskirts.

Thousands of city residents have crowded a displaced persons camp near the compound. At least 6,000 were believed to be there on Sunday, and the protection was said to be spotty.

United Nations officials said they could not rule out reports that people had been abducted from the camp.

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