UN Calls for Probe into Sudanese Bombing of Refugee Camp.

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Sudanese military forces have bombed a refugee camp in neighbouring South Sudan,
the United Nations confirmed , calling for an urgent investigation into
what its top human rights official warned could amount to “a serious
international crime.”

“Yesterday the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) confirmed that the Sudan Armed
Forces (SAF) dropped at least two bombs near the Yida refugee camp,” Hervé
Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations,
told the Security
Council.

According to Hilde Johnson, the head of UNMISS and the Secretary-General’s
Special Representative to South Sudan, two bombs fell inside the camp and three
outside of it. The camp, located in the country’s Unity state, shelters over
20,000 people who have fled increasing violence in the Sudanese states of
Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Mr. Ladsous said no casualties had been reported so far, adding that this could
change as the mission is still verifying the situation in surrounding
communities.

“It is absolutely imperative that both governments take the necessary steps to
de-escalate the situation, ensure that civilian lives are protected, and resume
peaceful dialogue,” Mr. Ladsous said.

Speaking later, Sudan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations,
Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, told journalists that the Sudanese Government had
not ordered any bombings.

He also said his Government fully respected the sovereignty and territorial
integrity of its southern neighbour, while adding that Sudan has the right to
fight all rebels that try to cause instability in its territory.

Meanwhile, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
condemned the bombings and urged an investigation, stressing that the attack
could amount to an international crime.

“There needs to be an independent, thorough and credible investigation to
establish the precise circumstances of this aerial bombing,”
said
High Commissioner Navi Pillay. “If indeed it is established that an
international crime or serious human rights violation has been committed, then
those responsible should be brought to justice,” she said.

Ms. Pillay said the incident risks aggravating what is already an extremely
tense and dangerous situation, and she urged the parties involved in the
fighting to immediately cease all attacks on civilians.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson Adrian Edwards
said the agency had been preparing new
refugee sites away from the border when the incident occurred.

“We had hoped to begin the relocation of refugees but our efforts have so far
been hampered by heavy rains which have made the road to the camp impassable,”
he said during a press briefing in Geneva.

A spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also voiced concern, calling on
both parties to “take all steps to protect civilian lives.”

Increasing tensions in the border areas between Sudan and South Sudan have
driven thousands of civilians to flee their homes since June, and various
refugee sites have been established in South Sudan and Ethiopia to provide
shelter, food and basic services to those affected by the violence.

In her remarks to the Security Council, Ms. Johnson also expressed concern over
other areas in the country which she said have been bombed recently by the
Sudan’s People Liberation Army (SPLA), including New Guffa and Yafta in Maban
County, which caused the deaths of one child and seven SPLA soldiers.

Ms. Johnson said the bombings have prompted many people to move from Guffa to
Bunji, the county capital, and said an increase in the number of internally
displaced persons (IDPs) is expected.

She also said fighting has been reported over the past couple of days in Upper
Nile State, with UNMISS helping to evacuate the resulting casualties.

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