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Hundreds of thousands 'trapped' in Sudan conflict states: UN

By AFP

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - Hundreds of thousands of people are "trapped" in two Sudanese states where rebels are battling government forces who have severely restricted access, the UN humanitarian chief said Thursday.

More than 200,000 refugees from South Kordofan and Blue Nile states have now crossed into South Sudan and Ethiopia and thousands more "in a desperate state" are following each day, Valerie Amos, the UN emergency relief coordinator said in a statment.

Large numbers of children who have crossed the border need "urgent" treatment for malnutrition, Amos said.

"I am deeply concerned by the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Sudan, especially in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states," said the UN under secretary general.

"Hundreds of thousands of people remain trapped in the conflict zone with little access to food, water, shelter and medical services."

Sudan government troops launched an offensive against the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in Kordofan and Blue Nile a year ago.

The rebels claim to have inflicted heavy casualties on the army in recent clashes. But the government has severely restricted access to the two states, and virtually refused access to zones controlled by the rebels.

UN agencies have begun food deliveries to six government-controlled areas of South Kordofan after a joint verification by the World Food Programme and the Sudanese government. The UN says more than 100,000 people need help in these zones alone.

"To respond to these growing needs, humanitarian agencies need unimpeded and complete access to all areas," said Amos, who highlighted the plight of people in the zones controlled by the SPLM-N.

The Sudanese government has accepted a plan put forward by the UN, African Union and Arab League to get aid into South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

But Amos said the Khartoum government "has laid out operational conditions that do not allow for the delivery of assistance by neutral parties in SPLM-N controlled areas."

The UN humanitarian chief said the government must "deliver on its stated commitment: that assistance can reach all Sudanese people in need."

Sudan's UN diplomats have repeatedly denied there is a humanitarian crisis in the two states. The SPLM-N was allied with the South Sudan side during the two-decade civil war before the country split in July last year.

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