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US offers $26m in Sudan refugee aid

04 April 2012, 16:33

 Washington - US President Barack Obama on Tuesday provided $26m to tackle an urgent and developing refugee crisis brought on by violence in Sudan's South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

The funds will be used to support lifesaving work by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with more than 140 000 displaced people from the two states, said National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor.

"The United States is gravely concerned by the situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, especially as the violent clashes continue along the shared border with South Sudan," Vietor said.

"We continue to call upon the government of Sudan to allow full and unfettered access for international humanitarian agencies to South Kordofan and Blue Nile to provide emergency assistance to those in need.

"The United States continues to call upon Sudan and South Sudan to exercise maximum restraint and to reach a negotiated settlement to the outstanding issues between them."

On Monday, Obama called South Sudan's US-backed President Salva Kiir to voice concern over bloodshed at the border and within Southern Kordofan state.

Obama is pressing Sudan and South Sudan to reach an agreement on oil production. South Sudan made the drastic decision in January to halt production of its main money-maker after Sudan started to seize crude due to a payment dispute.

South Sudan became independent in July last year after an overwhelming vote following two decades of war. Khartoum, long a pariah over its actions in South Sudan and Darfur, won cautious Western praise by accepting the secession.

But violence soon erupted in Sudan's southern states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. A relentless bombing campaign has severely hampered agriculture, leading aid workers to warn of starvation without immediate action.

More recently, Sudan and South Sudan have engaged in the worst violence since Juba's independence, with airstrikes, tanks and artillery fire.


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