Archive for February 20, 2012


South Sudan halves spending after oil shutdown row

By Hannah McNeish (AFP) 

JUBA — South Sudan slashed non-salary government spending by half, weeks after halting the oil production that forms 98 percent of its budget in a bitter row with former foes in north Sudan, officials said Sunday.

But the government of the oil-rich but impoverished nation said salaries would not be touched by the austerity measures despite a bloated civil service and massive military.

“These are swift and deep cuts, but no layoffs of civil servants, organised forces personal, and SPLA (army),” Kosti Manibe, Minister of Finance said in a statement. “Everyone?s pay check is being maintained.”

Non-salary spending will be cut “by an average of 50 percent” as well as reductions in “unconditional monthly grants” to the world’s newest nation’s 10 states.

The finance ministry said it also planned to triple tax revenue within six months by enforcing a 2009 tax law on income, businesses, and customs.

“The cutbacks are effective immediately, and will ensure that the necessary funds are available for the continued operation of the government and security forces,” the statement added.

South Sudan?s first budget, after splitting from the north in July with around three quarters of the crude oil, allocated over 40 percent of around $2 billion spending on salaries this year.

After decades of war left the country in ruins, South Sudan is tasked with building a new nation from scratch, but it took the drastic step of shutting down oil production in late January in a furious dispute with Sudan over transit fees.

South Sudan vowed to halt oil production of around 350,000 barrels per day until Sudan repaid 2.4 million barrels of southern crude it “stole” from pipelines running through the north to its Red Sea port.

The latest round of African Union-mediated talks foundered last week after South Sudan accused the north of “stealing” another 2.6 million barrels of crude.

The next round of AU talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa are slated to start on Wednesday.

In October, the government pledged to weed out up to 65 percent of rogue employees in a civil service plagued by nepotism, fraud and ghost workers, but the Minister of Labour resigned weeks later and the unpopular plan was shelved.

Around 300,000 people from the ex-rebel force that secured South Sudan?s independence are thought to make up its security forces, including police.

While opposition leaders and aid agencies have urged South Sudan to reduce military spending, analysts fear that widespread cuts could spark revolt and an increase in rebel militia groups still threatening the new nation?s stability.

South Sudan is already reeling from multiple crises, including hundreds of thousands fleeing an explosion of ethnic violence and rebel attacks, as well as tens of thousands of refugees fleeing civil war in the rump state of Sudan.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i1928kZLG9KvjMihNs-CY74ItRCA?docId=CNG.6ef3ef0f8ff2b7a81306fd0c8cadcac4.4a1

South Sudan slashes spending after halting oil output

South Sudanese citizens hold banners expressing solidarity as President Salva Kiir declared a halt on all oil operations in South Sudan
Leaving the oil in the ground has been a popular move in South Sudan.

South Sudan has halved spending on everything but salaries to compensate for the loss of revenue following an oil shutdown due to a row with Sudan.

Oil makes up 98% of its budget, after it split from the north last year.

There will be no job losses and government wages will still be paid, the finance ministry stressed.

President Salva Kiir said his nation would rather struggle for a bit than continue to hand over its oil revenues to the old enemies in Khartoum.

The pipelines run from South Sudan through its northern neighbour, with which it fought a bitter civil war for decades, leading to the deaths of some 1.5 million people.

But the two countries have never reached an agreement over how much the south must pay.

In January, South Sudan shut down its entire oil production of 350,000 barrels a day after Sudan started seizing southern oil to compensate for what it called unpaid transit fees.

After the new country shut down its oil production, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir responded by saying war was now closer than peace.

Each country accuses the other of backing rebel groups and there have been clashes along the new border.

‘Swift and deep’

The austerity measures are immediate.

“These are swift and deep cuts, but no layoffs of civil servants, organized forces personnel and [army] SPLA,” Finance Minister Kosti Manibe said in a statement on Sunday.

“Everyone’s paycheck is being maintained,” he said.

Vice-President Riek Machar: “We will definitely freeze our activities on development”

The BBC’s James Copnall in Khartoum says this is good news for South Sudan’s hundreds of thousands of civil servants and men and women in uniform.

South Sudan’s first budget allocated over 40% of $2bn (£1.2bn) to salaries, the AFP news agency reports.

Our correspondent says leaving the oil in the ground has been a popular move in South Sudan – many people see it as the moment the country finally became truly free.

Tax collection

The amount transferred to each of South Sudan’s 10 states will also be lowered, though the reduction will be “minimal” according to the statement.

The government says it will also triple tax revenue within six months through better tax enforcement.

Our correspondent says detailed figures are not available, but it seems unlikely these measures will fully compensate for the loss of the oil revenue since no significant economy exists outside of oil.

Vice-President Riek Machar told the BBC last week that the loss of oil revenues would mean development would have to be put on hold for several years, but basic services would not suffer.

“For a period of 30 months we will definitely freeze our activities on development, but we’ll provide basic services: Health; education; water and even some infrastructure projects will go on,” he said.

New talks to try to resolve the oil impasse between South Sudan and Khartoum are due in the next few days in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17098350

South Sudan cuts non-salary spending by 50 pct

Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:21am GMT

JUBA (Reuters) – South Sudan said on Sunday it would cut non-salary spending by around 50 percent as part of austerity measures to compensate for the loss of oil revenues due to a row with Khartoum.

In January, South Sudan shut down its entire oil production of 350,000 barrels a day after Sudan started seizing southern oil to compensate for what it calls unpaid fees.

A newly-independent but landlocked country, South Sudan must export its oil through Sudan. Both sides have failed to reach an agreement over fees.

Oil makes up 98 percent of South Sudan’s state income.

South Sudan’s Finance Ministry said in a statement non-salary spending will be cut by an average of 50 percent, adding that transfers to the country’s ten states would also be slightly reduced.

“These are swift and deep cuts, but no layoffs of civil servants, organized forces personnel and (army) SPLA. Everyone’s paycheck is being maintained,” Finance Minister Kosti Manibe said in a statement.

It gave no figures, but added that non-oil revenues would triple within six months through better tax enforcement.

No public data exists for South Sudan’s foreign currency reserves or detailed 2012 budget projections.

Diplomats say the South is unlikely to survive longer than several months without new oil revenues as the war-torn country is one of the most underdeveloped places in the world. No significant economy exists outside the oil industry.

South Sudan is locked in a conflict with Sudan over oil payments. The nation took three-quarters of Sudan’s oil production when it became independent in July 2011, but needs to export crude through a northern pipeline and a Red Sea port.

Both states have failed to agree on the fee Juba needs to pay, prompting Khartoum last month to seize at least three southern oil shipments at the Red Sea terminal.

Chinese-Malaysian oil consortium Petrodar, which provided 230,000 bpd of South Sudan’s output, said it could take at least 40 days up to six months or longer to resume production after pipes were flushed with water.

“Petrodar is currently assessing the impact of the shutdown to the wells and facilities,” it said in a statement.

Petrodar operates oil fields in Upper Nile state and also an export pipeline to the Red Sea.

South Sudan is due to resume oil talks sponsored by the African Union in Addis Ababa on Thursday, but diplomats see no breakthrough as positions are wide apart.

Sudan wants $1 billion in back payments plus $36 a barrel, while South Sudan has said it is willing to pay around $1 a barrel.

Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has warned the conflict could lead to war. North and south fought for decades in a civil war that killed an estimated 2 million people.

http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE81J00E20120220?sp=true

South Sudan halves spending on oil shutdown

Monday February 20, 2012

South Sudan slashed non-salary government spending by half, weeks after halting the oil production that forms 98 per cent of its budget in a bitter row with former foes in north Sudan, officials said Sunday.

But the government of the oil-rich but impoverished nation said salaries would not be touched by the austerity measures despite a bloated civil service and massive military.

‘These are swift and deep cuts, but no layoffs of civil servants, organised forces personal, and SPLA (army),’ Kosti Manibe, Minister of Finance said in a statement. ‘Everyone’s pay cheque is being maintained.’

Non-salary spending will be cut ‘by an average of 50 per cent’ as well as reductions in ‘unconditional monthly grants’ to the world’s newest nation’s 10 states.

The finance ministry said it also planned to triple tax revenue within six months by enforcing a 2009 tax law on income, businesses, and customs.

‘The cutbacks are effective immediately, and will ensure that the necessary funds are available for the continued operation of the government and security forces,’ the statement added.

South Sudan’s first budget, after splitting from the north in July with around three quarters of the crude oil, allocated over 40 per cent of around $2 billion spending on salaries this year.

After decades of war left the country in ruins, South Sudan is tasked with building a new nation from scratch, but it took the drastic step of shutting down oil production in late January in a furious dispute with Sudan over transit fees.

South Sudan vowed to halt oil production of around 350,000 barrels per day until Sudan repaid 2.4 million barrels of southern crude it ‘stole’ from pipelines running through the north to its Red Sea port.

The latest round of African Union-mediated talks foundered last week after South Sudan accused the north of ‘stealing’ another 2.6 million barrels of crude.

The next round of AU talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa are slated to start on Wednesday.

In October, the government pledged to weed out up to 65 per cent of rogue employees in a civil service plagued by nepotism, fraud and ghost workers, but the Minister of Labour resigned weeks later and the unpopular plan was shelved.

Around 300,000 people from the ex-rebel force that secured South Sudan’s independence are thought to make up its security forces, including police.

While opposition leaders and aid agencies have urged South Sudan to reduce military spending, analysts fear that widespread cuts could spark revolt and an increase in rebel militia groups still threatening the new nation’s stability.

South Sudan is already reeling from multiple crises, including hundreds of thousands fleeing an explosion of ethnic violence and rebel attacks, as well as tens of thousands of refugees fleeing civil war in the rump state of Sudan.

http://www.skynews.com.au/world/article.aspx?id=720343&vId=

South Sudan slashes spending after halting oil output
The Standard
South Sudan has halved spending on everything but salaries to compensate for the loss of revenue following an oil shutdown due to a row with Sudan. Oil makes up 98% of its budget, after it split from the north last year. There will be no job losses and 

South Sudan Approves Austerity
Wall Street Journal
By NICHOLAS BARIYO KAMPALA, Uganda—South Sudan has approved austerity measures as it seeks to address the loss of oil revenues following last month’s decision to halt crude shipments amid a bitter spat over fees with its northern neighbor, Sudan, 

South Sudan, don’t be scared by Bashir’s threats!
Sudan Tribune
February 19, 2012 — Most people with some knowledge about warfare would be the first to tell you that the republic of the Sudan’s not in any position to engage in a war with the republic of South Sudan, (RSS) at least for a foreseeable future!…

South Sudan triggers domestic outcry in Beijing
Financial Times
By Katrina Manson in Juba Lu Zhifang’s mother was horrified at the prospect of her leaving China for the first time to take up a job in South Sudan, and she tried to stop her getting a passport. So when 29 Chinese workers were kidnapped north of the 
South Sudan: 9000 Kenyans Register in Juba
AllAfrica.com
By Lagu Joseph Jackson, 19 February 2012 Juba — At least about nine thousand Kenyans living in Juba the capital of South Sudan were registered following last month’s order from the Ministry of Interior that all foreigners should register with their 
Disputed Sudan Oil Can Unload After Court Ruling, Trafigura Says
BusinessWeek
20 (Bloomberg) — A crude oil cargo that’s been stranded at sea because of a dispute between Sudan and South Sudan can unload in Japan after a court ruling in London, oil trader Trafigura Beheer BV said. “We can confirm that the English court has 
South Sudan halves spending after oil shutdown row
AFP
JUBA — South Sudan slashed non-salary government spending by half, weeks after halting the oil production that forms 98 percent of its budget in a bitter row with former foes in north Sudan, officials said Sunday. But the government of the oil-rich 

AFP
Kenyans gunned down in South Sudan
The Standard
By OSINDE OBARE Three Kenyans have been killed and three others seriously injured in a bandit attack in South Sudan. The trio were shot dead when bandits ambushed them as they were being driven to a building site in Kapoeta County.
South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya to share cost of Lamu oil pipeline project
New Sudan Vision
To minimise financial difficulties, the LAPSSET master plan report proposes that Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia share part of the cost, even as they seek donor funding. The plan report also acknowledges that some of the projects might not be completed 

Sudan: Access Denied to Foreign NGOs in Blue Nile, South Kordofan
Sudan Vision
Khartoum – Sudan will not allow international NGOs access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions, the government reiterated Sunday saying it will not allow the creation of a Darfur-like situation. This came during the meeting between Sudanese Foreign 
South Sudan road projects to start in April: GSDF
Borglobe
JUBA — A peacekeeping representative dispatched last month to South Sudan to join a UN mission said Saturday road construction in the capital, Juba, should begin in early April. Col. Toru Namatame, 45, a member of an advance group for the Ground 


Borglobe
Tanzania railway to link EA states, South Sudan
East African Business Week
The Tanzania minister for transport, Dr. Omari Nundu, said a formal agreement had been reached between Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda to construct a multi-billion dollar railway network, which would also serve the newly born nation of South Sudan.
South Sudan: Health Ministry Declares Nation Meningitis Free
AllAfrica.com
By Julius N. Uma, 19 February 2012 Juba — The health ministry on Friday declared South Sudanmeningitis free and denied media reports that an outbreak of the disease had occurred in parts of the country, which reportedly lies in the “meningitis belt.

South Sudan Anti-corruption Commission issues assets declaration forms in Jonglei
Sudan Tribune
February 19, 2012 (BOR) – The South Sudan Anti-Corruption Commission (SSACC) has released forms in Jonglei state, asking government officials to declare their assets within the next two weeks. This is the South Sudan government’s latest attempt to stem 

Sudan’s ruling party rejects calls to remove South Kordofan governor
Sudan Tribune
Abdel-Rasoul al-Nur, a tribal leader of the Misseryia tribe called on Saturday to dismiss Haroun and to appoint a military governor in the South Kordofan where the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) is fighting against the government’s 
South Sudan Approves Austerity
Wall Street Journal
By NICHOLAS BARIYO KAMPALA, Uganda—South Sudan has approved austerity measures as it seeks to address the loss of oil revenues following last month’s decision to halt crude shipments amid a bitter spat over fees with its northern neighbor, Sudan, 

South Sudan, don’t be scared by Bashir’s threats!
Sudan Tribune
February 19, 2012 — Most people with some knowledge about warfare would be the first to tell you that the republic of the Sudan’s not in any position to engage in a war with the republic of South Sudan, (RSS) at least for a foreseeable future!

Sudan to include foreign groups in assessing South Kordofan’s humanitarian 
Sudan Tribune
February 19, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government has decided to involve international organizations in an operation to assess humanitarian needs in the country’s war-torn region of SouthKordofan, an official announced on Sunday, drawing approval 

Sudan oil dispute keeps tanker from Japan port
Reuters
The Ratna Shradha, which is owned by India Steamship, is holding 600000 barrels of crude oil thatSouth Sudan says was seized by neighbouring Sudan last month and which sold it at deep discount to a North Asian trader, industry sources said.
Attacks, clashes increase on Sudan-South Sudan border to shut down road, rebel 
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Attacks by the Sudanese Armed Forces have been focused along the road leading out of Southern Kordofan, Sudan, into Yida, South Sudan, said Arnu Loddi, a spokesman for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, a rebel group inside Sudan.

SOUTH SUDAN: Worsening food crisis
IRINnews.org
JUBA, 20 February 2012 (IRIN) – An already dire food situation in South Sudan could deteriorate amid growing economic problems, food shortages and a mass influx of people fleeing Sudan in the next two months, agencies warn. The UN World Food Programme 

South Sudan slashes spending after halting oil output
The Standard
South Sudan has halved spending on everything but salaries to compensate for the loss of revenue following an oil shutdown due to a row with Sudan. Oil makes up 98% of its budget, after it split from the north last year. There will be no job losses and 

South Sudan calls on Kenya to help end minerals conflict with Sudan
Mining Review
COM — 20 February 2012 – The government of South Sudan has appealed to Kenya to assist it in ending the conflict between South Sudan and Sudan over mineral resources. “Our government is calling on Kenya, as one of the peaceful countries in the region 

Sven Torfinn for The New York Times

Mary Nyekueh Ley, who lost a husband to war and two children to disease, at her hut in Omdurman, on the north side of the border that divides the two Sudans.

By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

Published: February 19, 2012

The New York Times

Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese straddle two worlds.

“My life’s a curse,” she said

Her first husband was wounded in battle and died in her arms. Her second husband beat her.

Two of her children perished from one of the most curable diseases — diarrhea.

And now she is a southerner in a northern land, a conspicuous dark-skinned outsider, with traditional swirling scars all over her face, trying to raise two sons and two daughters. Worse still, the only marketable skill she has is cooking up homebrewed alcohol, a serious crime in Islamist Sudan that has landed her in jail more than 10 times and earned her dozens of lashes.

“See,” she said, pointing to the ribbons of shiny white scars up and down her shins. “The police.”

Mrs. Ley’s situation is extreme, no doubt. But it is not unique. Hundreds of thousands of Southern Sudanese who have spent most of their lives in the north now find themselves straddling two worlds, their lives upended by a tumultuous border that recently split the country in half.

In July, after decades of an underdog guerrilla struggle, South Sudan broke off from Sudan and formed its own nation. Most Southern Sudanese were ecstatic. The partying in Juba, South Sudan’s capital, did not stop for days.

But for southerners living north of the border, like Mrs. Ley, whose stooped back and cracked, calloused hands tell their own story of suffering and toil, the south’s joyous independence compounded their misery.

Because of the enmity between Sudan and South Sudan — the two have been massing troops on the border, bracing for another major conflict that could ripple across this entire region — there will not be any dual citizenship for southerners living in the north, and it is not clear what the status will be for northerners living in the south.

The Sudanese government says it is going to strip all southerners of their citizenship starting in April. If they want to remain in Sudan, they must apply for a visa, work permit, residency papers and the like, all of which will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get for impoverished, illiterate people like Mrs. Ley who often have no documents showing when or where they were born. She thinks she is around 45 years old.

Even if someone was born in the north, like Mrs. Ley’s 9-year-old son, Georgie, the restrictions are the same. If the person belongs to an ethnic group that is from the south — including Mrs. Ley’s, the Nuer — then that person is considered a southerner.

Facing all this, more than 350,000 southerners have recently relocated, by bus and by barge, from the north to the south, part of a huge migration facilitated by the United Nations and the South Sudanese government. Many others are in line to go.

“I’m just waiting for my pension papers,” said Palegido Malong, an elderly southern man who worked as a guard at a government hospital in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. “I’ll die where I’m supposed to die.”

And as Mrs. Ley soon discovered, a lot of people are dying in the south right now.

It was around December 2010 — Mrs. Ley says with a laugh that she is not strong on dates — that she and her children boarded a bus back to her ancestral home, a place called Mankien, just south of the north-south border. She said she was excited to participate in the south’s referendum for independence, held in January 2011, and was all set to move back with her people.

But one morning, a rogue militia stormed into Mankien, part of a wave of communal violence and insurrections that recently have been sweeping the south. Southern Sudanese soldiers rushed to confront them. The fighting raged for two days, and when Mrs. Ley emerged from her hut, she said, she had to step over dozens of bodies in the grass — men, boys, girls.

“We were all about to be killed,” she said.

She was also disturbed by the lack of development in the south — and it is not as if she were ensconced in modernity here in Omdurman, which is just across the Nile from Khartoum. She lives in a mud-walled house with paper pictures of Jesus taped above the bed. But in Mankien, there are no paved roads or electricity, few wells and few schools. South Sudan is one of the poorest countries on earth, where 83 percent of the population lives in thatched-roofed huts and a 15-year-old girl has a better chance of dying in childbirth than of finishing school.

A few months after arriving in Mankien, Mrs. Ley and her children decided to take a bus back to Omdurman, choosing the lesser of two evils.

They did not receive a warm welcome. Her 14-year-old daughter, Nyapay, said her toes were crunched in the market one day by an Arab man who intentionally stepped on them. Mrs. Ley said people kept giving her nasty looks and saying things like, “Why are you still here if you have separated?” She had always felt like a second-class citizen in the north. Now, it was official.

Mrs. Ley struggles to feed her children anything beyond wal wal, a tasteless dish of sorghum and water. She does not have any relatives nearby who can help. Her first husband, a tall, skinny man named Walkat, was a guerrilla fighter, and when he was killed, she was handed over to Walkat’s brother, who regularly beat her children and punched her in the face.

She fled to Khartoum about 20 years ago and has been brewing and selling illegal alcohol ever since.

“It’s all I know how to do,” Mrs. Ley said, as she stared listlessly at the tools of her trade — a big blue plastic jug and a set of dented plastic soda bottles.

She once spent six months in prison and cannot count all the times the police have whipped her with leather straps, as dictated by Sudanese Islamic law.

Mrs. Ley adores her children, and on a recent afternoon, she poured Georgie a cool glass of water and beamed at him as he tipped it back. But her eyes dropped straight to the dirt floor when the subject of school fees came up.

“I’m out,” she said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/20/world/africa/for-south-sudan-woman-misery-on-both-sides-of-the-border.html?_r=1


18th February 2012
NCP Sudan ground and air attack on the Republic of South Sudan
Since Monday 13th February 2012, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) has been attacking SPLA positions inside the Republic of South Sudan by air and ground forces in Jaw (Unity State) and Kofra Kingi (Western Bhar el Ghazal state). The NCP government in Khartoum is committing this heinous crime while having signed a non-aggression agreement with SPLM Chief Negotiator, Cde Pagan Amum, in Ethiopia.
Description: F:\Bol Makueng10.JPG
Comrade Bol Makueng
SPLM Secretary for Information, Culture and Communication
Picture by Comrade Larco Lomayat
Why does the Sudan government sign a non-aggression agreement with SPLM and then wages war on the Republic of South Sudan?
· The NCP leaders are pathological liars. Their main modus operandi is always deceit, mislead and misinform the public and international community. They have no faith in agreements they make with anybody – SPLM, regional or national and political institutions. At the time the Sudan government delegation was travelling to Ethiopia, the SAF was just preparing to attack the Republic of South Sudan. The objective being to frustrate the discussions so that they continue stealing the oil. In fact, the NCP ordered the oil companies to open the pipelines even after the Republic of South Sudan had ordered the closure.
· Before the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) the NCP government was the sole beneficiary of the oil in Sudan. During the CPA, the NCP dishonoured the wealth sharing formula by taking both the ministry of finance and that of petroleum. This was to steal the oil unchecked and thus Southern Sudan by then was just getting only 20% instead of the agreed 50% of the oil share.
· Now that South Sudan is an independent nation, the NCP continued its theft of oil. The republic of South Sudan caught the NCP red handed. All the deceitful avenues of theft have been exposed. The NCP will not again get money to hire mercenaries and Janjaweed to fight in Southern Kordofan, Southern Blue Nile and the Republic of South Sudan.
· The NCP has refused to implement the CPA protocols popular consultations for Southern Kordofan and Southrn Blue Nile, and self-determination for Abyei, and chooses to wage war against the people of these regions. The NCP thus needs the oil money to pay for arms and mercenaries to fight in these areas.
· The NCP is also having a day dream to reverse the independence of South Sudan and to colonize it again so as to plunder resources. The NCP is investing on the willing South Sudanese fight as soldiers and politicians of fortune on behalf of the NCP.
· The NCP government is not ready to make an agreement with the Republic of South Sudan because it does not want anything legal as they will be made to return the stolen oil money and also pay for damages incurred as a result of the NCP’s subversive and deceitful activities that led to the closure of the oil pipelines.
This information is important for people of South Sudan and the international community to know because the NCP is busy declaring and waging war against the Republic of South Sudan, Abyei, Southern Kordofan, Southern Blue Nile and Darfur on the basis outlined above.
 
Cde. Bol Makueng
SPLM Secretary for Information, Culture and Communication
Attacks, clashes increase on Sudan-South Sudan border to shut down road, rebel group says

JUBA, Sudan – Sudan’s military is carrying out a bombing campaign intended to shut down the main route for refugees fleeing violence in the country’s south, a rebel spokesman said Monday.

A former American aid worker who lives in the region documented five attacks and clashes last week.

Attacks by the Sudanese Armed Forces have been focused along the road leading out of Southern Kordofan, Sudan, into Yida, South Sudan, said Arnu Loddi, a spokesman for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, a rebel group inside Sudan.

More than 20,000 refugees have already fled to a camp in Yida to escape the violence, and the United Nations worries that hundreds of thousands more could be on the way.

According to Loddi, Sudanese Armed Forces have been launching missiles from a military base in Kadugli, Sudan into the border region. He said Sudanese forces also launched “an ambush on a lorry carrying civilians going to Yida,” last week. Loddi did not have any information on the number of casualties sustained in the attack.

A Sudanese military spokesman did not immediately answer calls seeking comment about the reports.

“They want to close down the roads,” said Loddi, who is based in Nairobi, Kenya. “Sometimes they ambush, sometimes they bomb it. Since the beginning of this year they have bombed the same area at least five times.”

The rebel SPLM-North was once part of the Southern People’s Liberation Movement, now the ruling political party in newly independent South Sudan.

The SPLM says it cut off relations with the rebels across the border after South Sudan broke away from Khartoum in July. But Sudan claims that the SPLM-North still receives funding and support from Juba and even maintains a presence in refugee camps — including Yida — across the border.

Ryan Boyette, a former aid worker who lives in Sudan and is now leading a team of 15 citizen journalists, said that Sudanese forces carried out at least five attacks last week, including rocket attacks, aerial bombings and a direct attack on a village by troops.

One of the attacks saw Sudanese Armed Forces directly engage South Sudan forces in Jau — along the road to Yida — Loddi said. Four southern troops were injured, he said.

Jau is claimed by both north and south, and the two sides have been on high alert since the attack. South Sudan’s military spokesman Col. Philip Aguer said some 5,000 Sudanese troops have been moved to the region.

“We don’t know their intention,” he said. “We are just watching and waiting.”

Aguer denied that any SPLM-North forces are operating inside South Sudan.

While the two sides jockey for control of Jau and the unmarked border, the humanitarian situation in Southern Kordofan is deteriorating. Sudan has been at war with the SPLM-North since June, frequently employing Antonov aircraft to bomb rebel controlled areas.

The repeated attacks have effectively halted agricultural production in the region, and many humanitarian organizations warn that food is beginning to run out in the Sudanese state of Southern Kordofan. Khartoum has refused to allow relief organizations into the area citing security concerns and fears that aid may be given to rebel fighters.

Last week the U.N.’s top humanitarian official, Valerie Amos, called on both Sudan and the SPLM-North to grant immediate humanitarian access to the region.

“Action is urgently needed to meet the needs of people caught up in the conflict,” she said.

http://www.startribune.com/world/139687153.html