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Sudan: Ceasefire in South Kordofan state

President Bashir stops fighting but his forces are accused of gross abuses.
Sudan south kordofan nuba 2011 7 19Enlarge
A new recruit for the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) takes part in a training session in a secret camp in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan province in preparation for what they call a long war against Khartoum on July 11, 2011. High up in Sudan's Nuba Mountains, hundreds of men train to join fighters aligned to the ex-rebel army of the South, the SPLA. (Trevor Snapp/AFP/Getty Images)

Sudan has been accused of gross human rights abuses in recent weeks in South Kordofan state, which borders the newly independent country of South Sudan.

Now Sudan President Omar al-Bashir announced a two-week ceasefire in South Kordofan state, where fighting since June has displaced 70,000 people from their homes.

"I declare a unilateral two-week ceasefire," said Bashir on state radio, according to AFP.

Bashir's government says the conflict began when government forces tried to disarm ethnic Nuban fighters after elections in the state that borders newly independent South Sudan.

But many sources in South Kordofan charge that the government actions included mass killings of Nubans. Bashir's Khartoum government denies those accusations of ethnic cleansing against pro-southern Nubans.

Fighting has decreased in South Kordofan this month because of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

It has been very difficult to get accurate information about what is going on in South Kordofan, because journalists and diplomats are barred from the disputed province and the UN is also restricted in the area. 

Bashir announced the ceasefire during a surprise visit to South Kordofan's provincial capital Kadugli.

Although there is an urgent need for humanitarian relief in South Kordofan, Bashir said that foreign aid organizations would not be allowed into South Kordofan and that any aid would be delivered only through the Sudanese Red Crescent organization, Reuters news agency reports. There are charges that the Sudan Red Crescent has carried out abuses against the Nuban people, according to the Satellite Sentinel Project.

A United Nations report published this month warned that war crimes may have been committed in South Kordofan.

The U.N. said that atrocities had been committed on both sides, but it charged the army's actions were "especially egregious" and included to summary executions, aerial bombardments and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/africa-emerges/sudan-ceasefire-south-kordofan-state