(Updates with foreign ministry spokesman not available for comment in fourth paragraph.)
Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- A Sudanese rebel group said it signed an agreement with the government to allow aid into rebel- controlled areas in two border states where the U.S. says half a million people may face famine conditions.
The accord, signed on Feb. 18 with the United Nations, the African Union and the Arab League, will allow humanitarian assistance to flow into oil-rich Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, said Arnu Ngutulu Lodi, spokesman for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North. The implementation of the agreement has yet to be discussed, he said.
“Time is running out and people are suffering so it needs to happen as soon as possible,” Lodi said by phone today from Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya. “We are not confident of Khartoum honoring this agreement, because we know Khartoum signs agreements and does not honor them.”
Fighting in the states has intensified since South Sudan seceded on July 9 and took control of three-quarters of the former state’s oil output of 490,000 barrels a day. President Umar al-Bashir’s government is battling members of the SPLM- North, which was part of South Sudan’s ruling party until the south’s independence and is banned by Sudan.
Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman al-Obeid Murawih didn’t answer phone calls seeking comment.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said on Jan. 17 that Sudan’s government has “deliberately denied access” to international aid and UN workers in the two states. The next day U.S. special envoy to Sudan Princeton Lyman said about 500,000 people in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile may face “emergency conditions bordering on famine” by March.
--With assistance from Salma El Wardany in Khartoum. Editors: Paul Richardson, Karl Maier
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