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Sudan: Ban strongly condemns escalating violence in Abyei

22 May 2011 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today strongly condemned the continuing escalation of violence in Sudan's disputed area of Abyei, including increased troop movements and exchanges of heavy and small arms fire between the security forces of the Governments of Sudan and Southern Sudan.

“ The Secretary-General remains deeply concerned for the safety of the civilian population of the area, the vast majority of whom has been forcibly displaced due to the fighting,” said a statement issued by the his spokesperson.

Mr. Ban deplored the actions of those responsible for the shelling of the United Nations compound, an assault that wounded two peacekeepers, and demanded that the perpetrators be held accountable for the attack.

He appealed to both sides in the conflict to ensure the safety and security of UN personnel and reiterated his call for an investigation into the attacks on United Nations troops in Goli on 10 May and the raid on a UN-escorted convoy on Thursday to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“The Secretary-General calls on both parties to immediately cease their military operations, withdraw all forces and armed elements from Abyei and desist from further acts of antagonism,” said the statement.

“He calls on the parties to uphold their previous commitments to maintain peace and security in the Abyei Area through mechanisms already agreed upon and engage in serious discussions to find a final settlement to the Abei issue before 9 July.”

Deadly clashes have claimed dozens of lives since the start of the year, when a referendum on Abyei''s status that was supposed to have been held never took place amid disagreement on voter eligibility.

Southern Sudan will formally secede from the rest of the country on 9 July as a result of a separate referendum held in January and both north and south claim Abyei.

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