March 27, 2015 3:17 PM
Khartoum (AFP) – More than 20,000 people have been displaced by fighting between Sudanese troops and rebels this month in war-torn South Kordofan, the United Nations quoted the Sudanese government as saying Friday.
Government forces have been battling the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) in the southern Blue Nile and South Kordofan areas since 2011.
“Between March 9 and March 18, an estimated 23,600 people fled their homes” according to the government’s Humanitarian Aid Commission, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in its weekly bulletin.
The displaced fled to the government-controlled “El Abassiya, Abu Jubaiha and Rashad towns” and surrounding villages east of South Kordofan’s state capital Kadugli, HAC told the UN.
OCHA said it had not been able to verify the numbers itself because fighting was ongoing in parts of the state.
In November, government forces launched “Decisive Summer 2” at the end of Sudan’s rainy season, which renders roads in the area impassable.
The assault has seen the government battling insurgent groups in the western region of Darfur, some of which are allied to the SPLA-N in the umbrella Sudan Revolutionary Front movement.
But the SPLA-N said on March 13 that it had attacked government garrisons in the Abu Jubaiha area and forced them to retreat, but the military said they had repulsed the attacks.
Both sides claimed to have inflicted heavy casualties on the other, but access to the area is limited, making it difficult to verify such claims.
Insurgents of the SPLA-N were allies of southern rebels during Sudan’s 22-year civil war, which ended in a 2005 peace deal and South Sudan’s eventual independence in July 2011.
Conflict broke out between former rebels from the SPLA-N and government forces in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states in 2011.