Amid the continous call from the United Nations and the United States to cease the hostilities between Sudan and South Sudan, violence and tensions continue to escalate in the region.
Reports say South Sudan’s military involved in the attack on and seizure of Heglig, home to Sudan’s largest remaining source of oil following the South’s secession.
Meanwhile, Sudanese Armed Forces continued aerial bombardment in South Sudan earlier this week.
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir reportedly rejected international calls to pull out troops from the contested Heglig area.
Sudanese warplanes earlier Thursday launched their first attack on a major South Sudanese town.
As border clashes escalated in the third straight day of violence, the United States and the international community fear an all-out war to erupt.
Today, the United States of America condemns offensive military action by either side.
Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland urged both governments must agree to an immediate unconditional cessation of hostilities, withdraw all forces that are deployed across the January 1, 1956 border as recognized by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005, and cease all support to armed movements from the other state.
“It is critical that both sides avoid unilateral offensive actions and that Sudanese and South Sudanese leadership exercise maximum restraint.” -Ms. Nuland
The United States urges both parties to activate without delay the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism through UN Security Council Resolution 2024, authorizing the United Nations Interim Security for Abyei to assist Sudan and South Sudan with investigations and monitoring along the Sudan-South Sudan border.
The continued violence in Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile, and along the border, as well as the continued deployment of Sudan Armed Forces and South Sudan Police Services in Abyei, undermines the progress made through the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP)-facilitated talks, Ms. Nuland stressed.
The US government urges both countries to return without delay to the negotiating table under the auspices of the AUHIP and use peaceful means, not military action, to resolve outstanding issues.
As the world leader, the United States further urges the heads of state of both countries to meet in a summit as previously planned in order to advance negotiations on the issues that stand in the way of achieving true peace.
In addition, the Secretary-General has spoken to President Salva Kiir of South Sudan and encouraged South Sudan to withdraw.
President Kiir reportedly has responded that South Sudan is taking these actions in self-defense.
UN Photo/Tim McKulka
The Secretary-General is also seeking to engage senior authorities in Khartoum.
Security Council members also expressed very serious concern about the situation and are working on a statement and additional actions reflecting that concern.
In addition, the African Union in a statement also expressed “grave concern at the escalating armed conflict on the border between Sudan and South Sudan and calls upon both parties to exercise utmost restraint.”
Late of March this year, military clashes have erupted in the border region of Sudan and South Sudan.
Media reports say South Sudan accused Sudan of sending warplanes to bomb two border areas.
Meanwhile, Sudan accused the southern army of attacking the oil-producing Heglig region wherein parts of which are claimed by both warring nations.
The military clashes prompted Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir to suspend plans to attend a meeting with his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir on 3 April.
On July 2011, South Sudan, Africa’s 54th nation was born. Millions of people celebrated a new national identity and new national promise. For more than two decades, Sudan has been riven by intense fighting over land and resources.
However, the security situation in the disputed area of Abyei remains fragile, with both South Sudan and Sudan failing to withdraw their armed forces as agreed under a demilitarization pact reached in June 2011.
South Sudan became independent from Sudan on 9 July. A referendum on the status of the Abyei area on the border was to have been held in January this year, but never took place amid disagreement on voter eligibility.
Dozens of people have been killed this year as a result of clashes in Abyei and surrounding areas and tens of thousands of have been forced to flee their homes.