(Updates with comment from UN spokesman in second paragraph, Obama in eighth.)
June 22 (Bloomberg) -- Clashes between Sudanese government forces and units from Southern Sudan’s army in the northern border state of Southern Kordofan have displaced more than 73,000 people since June 5, the United Nations said today.
Sudan’s army arrested six Sudanese staff of the UN peacekeeping mission today at the airport of Kadugli, the capital of Southern Kordofan state, in an act that “constitutes a clear violation” to agreements between the mission and the government that grant immunity to all UN staff in the country, said UN spokesman Kouider Zerrouk.
The Sudanese government must “ensure freedom of movement for all UN staff regardless of their origin, ethnic, or political affiliations,” he said by phone from Khartoum, Sudan’s capital.
Fighting in the border areas of Southern Kordofan and the disputed region of Abyei have raised concern about a resumption of the two-decade civil war in sub-Saharan Africa’s third- biggest oil producer that ended with a 2005 peace agreement. The south is due to become independent on July 9.
Some of the displaced people in Southern Kordofan, the north’s only oil-producing state, have returned to their homes, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in an e-mailed statement.
“Humanitarian agencies are still unable to freely access the civilian population, despite improvements in the security situation” since June 19, the office said.
Delegations from the north and south in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, are discussing a cease-fire in Southern Kordofan, according to Thabo Mbeki, the head of the African Union’s High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan.
U.S. President Barack Obama condemned violence against civilians in the state and urged northern and Southern Sudan to work toward a ceasefire.
“The situation in Southern Kordofan is dire, with deeply disturbing reports of attacks based on ethnicity,” Obama said in an e-mailed statement. “The United States condemns all acts of violence, in particular the Sudanese Armed Forces aerial bombardment of civilians and harassment and intimidation of UN peacekeepers.”
Southern Kordofan borders the oil-rich states of Unity and Upper Nile in Southern Sudan, which will assume control of about 75 percent of Sudan’s daily oil production of 490,000 barrels when it becomes independent. The crude is pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp.
The state accounts for about 115,000 barrels per day, according to Sudan’s minister of state for oil, Ali Ahmed Osman.
--Editors: Emily Bowers, John Simpson.
To contact the reporter on this story: Maram Mazen in Khartoum at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at email@example.com.