Sudan border disputes risk prolonging unrest: UN expert

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Several outstanding border disputes risk prolonging the conflict between North and South Sudan, the independent expert on the human rights situation in the Sudan told the UN's rights body Monday.

"Sudan and South Sudan cannot be at peace if the border areas between the two countries remain mired in armed conflict," Mohamed Chande Othman told the UN Human Rights Council, which is responsible for his appointment.

Othman particularly highlighted disputes in the embattled areas of Abyei, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile.

Ongoing fighting in Sudan's border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, between the north's army and ex-rebels with strong ties to the south, have prompted Khartoum to accuse the south of fomenting unrest in the area. Last week, North Sudan's parliament approved military action in the Blue Nile.

The flashpoint border region of Abyei, meanwhile, has been occupied by the Khartoum government since May and more than 110,000 people fled their homes to South Sudan, which also claims the region.

On September 7, both Sudans agreed to remove their troops from the Abyei region, where according to the 2005 peace treaty a referendum is to be held to determine the region's status.

"(These regions) should serve as a stark reminder that the international community must remain engaged with the Sudan and South Sudan to assist them to resolve their outstanding issues," Othman said.

He added that both countries also needed to address citizenship issues, "with respect to both southerners who have chosen to remain in the North and northerners who have remained in the South".

© 2011 AFP

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