Over 15,000 fled recent fighting at Sudan's Abyei: UN

24th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

More than 15,000 people have fled clashes in Sudan's flashpoint town of Abyei to find refuge further south, the United Nations said Tuesday.

Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said: "We have a rough estimate of 15,000 people displaced in and around Agok town."

Agok is about 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of Abyei.

Abyei, claimed by both north and south, was due to vote on its future alongside a referendum on independence for the south. However, it did not hold the poll due to disagreements over who was eligible to vote.

On Sunday it was seized by northern troops.

The UN said that the situation in Abyei remained volatile.

Byrs noted that a UN team tried Monday to head to Agok with the aim of reaching Abyei so as to conduct an assessment of the population's humanitarian needs.

"Unfortunately, it had to turn back due to insecurity. For the moment, we have not made any evaluations of the needs in Abyei," she said.

"We think that there may be UN warehouses and offices in Abyei that may have been pillaged."

The UN team will reattempt to go to Abyei on Tuesday, Byrs said.

Separately, the UN human rights chief condemned the attacks on Abyei, and urged both Khartoum and the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army to negotiate an end to the crisis.

© 2011 AFP

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