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Monday:  July 28, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in abyei (5)

Friday
May272011

Thousands Fleeing Conflict in Sudan's Disputed Abyei Region (NEWS BRIEF)

(HN May 27, 2011) - Thousands of people are fleeing the conflict in the disputed Abyei region between north and south Sudan, prompting aid agencies to rush support to neighbouring areas and triggering a harsh condemnation by the UN's human rights chief.

As the security situation in the area continues to be volatile, the UN and other agencies are providing trucks, essential non-food relief items, fuel and medicines to support humanitarian operations. However continued violence has forced some mission back.

Northern troops, aircraft and tanks overran the border town of Abyei on Saturday, sending 40,000 residents fleeing and drawing condemnation from the international community, saying the action is a threat to peace between north and south.

The UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, today called on both sides of the conflict to immediately cease hostilities and respect international human rights and humanitarian law. “I condemn the recent attacks and counter-attacks in the Abyei region by both sides – this is certainly no way to advance the peaceful coexistence of North and South Sudan,” she said.

“I am particularly alarmed by the shelling of civilian areas in Abyei by the SAF, as well as reports of aerial bombardment in other locations such as Todacch, Tajalei and in the vicinity of the River Kiir bridge. I urge all parties to explore a negotiated solution to the Abyei crisis and to avoid a descent into further conflict and chaos.”

Elisabeth Byrs of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said at a press briefing today in Geneva monitored by HUMNEWS that it was also possible – but not confirmed – that UN offices and stocks in Abyei have been looted. 

Reports suggest that tens of thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) have poured into Southern Sudan's Warrap, Unity and Northern Bahr El Ghazal states, says the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Many are in need of food and water and, with the recent heavy rains, may be vulnerable to water-borne diseases and respiratory tract infections. 

IOM says it has registered four truck loads of IDPs who arrived in Turalei in Warrap State on May 25th.  A further 1,000 IDPs arrived yesterday, May 26th , in Wunrok, south of Turalei. 

IOM, which has registered some 6,500 IDPs in the past two days, has also provided transport for 138 IDPs who were walking towards Gogrial West, south west of Wunrok.

IOM is also distributing 1,000 kits containing non-food relief items, including plastic sheeting, jerry cans, mosquito nets, soap, blankets, sleeping mats and cooking utensils in Mayen Abun, and Turalei in Warrap State. It is also helping to construct emergency latrines.

Tracking and assessing the displaced population has been difficult because many people are still on the move or are hiding in the bush.  The continued heavy rainfall has made some roads impassable and this has impeded access to areas where IDPs may be sheltering.

Also in the works for longer term assistance, which will include providing trucks to humanitarian organisations, coordinating the distribution of non-food relief items, procuring equipment to treat and distribute clean water, and organising the return of IDPs back to Abyei, once the crisis is over.  

- HUMNEWS staff, UN

Tuesday
May102011

Sudan: Abyei at a Dangerous Tipping Point (ANALYSIS)

Abyei, May 2011 - photo courtesy ICG - by The International Crisis Group (Nairobi/Brussels)

(May 10, 2011) -- Abyei is on the brink of dangerous new conflict that risks escalation of violent confrontation between security forces and other armed proxies from North and South Sudan on the eve of Southern independence.

Fighting in recent days follows months of recurring incidents in the hotly contested border territory, underscoring dangerous tensions both on the ground and between leaders of the National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) in Khartoum and Juba, respectively.

North and South have deployed forces in and around Abyei in breach of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and subsequent security arrangements, as both seek to control the territory come Southern independence on 9 July.

While previous clashes have involved civilians, informal militias, and/or police, last week’s involved members of security forces on both sides. Further escalation and additional tit-for-tat deployments risk pushing Abyei beyond the tipping point, endangering lives and the fragile peace in Sudan.

Fighting broke out at a security checkpoint near Todach in the Abyei area on 1 May, after Sudan Armed Forces elements of the Joint Integrated Units (JIU, a largely failed CPA mechanism comprising troops drawn from the Northern and Southern armies) allegedly delivering an authorised weapons shipment were stopped by Southern police forces; fighting erupted leaving some 14 dead. In addition to the immediate threat posed to civilians in and around Abyei, at risk are recent gains of the CPA and the peaceful secession of the South.

Both North and South have unilaterally asserted claims over Abyei in recent weeks, either in public rhetoric or in draft constitutions; Khartoum has even threatened to withhold recognition of Southern independence, underscoring the stakes and the importance of a mutually agreed solution. Further deterioration also threatens ongoing negotiations toward a constructive post-2011 relationship and risks escalation of proxy conflicts in other parts of both North and South Sudan.

The dispute over Abyei -- a territory geographically, ethnically and politically caught between North and South -- is one of the most intractable in Sudan. The area is settled primarily by Ngok Dinka communities and has been used for hundreds of years by Misseriya pastoralists who migrate to and beyond the territory to graze huge cattle herds during the dry season. Clashes early in the year and unresolved tensions have again prevented the Misseriya migration south, and apparently large numbers of cattle may die for lack of grass and water.

The CPA granted Abyei its own referendum (a choice to join the new South or remain a special administrative territory within the North), but this did not take place in part because of heated disputes over who was eligible to vote. Ngok Dinka constituents are overwhelmingly in favour of joining the South, while Misseriya communities fear annexation could prevent migration and thus threaten their way of life.

But the Abyei dispute has also assumed broader political dimensions, and been used as a bargaining chip between North and South. Despite common perceptions, the dispute is not primarily about oil, as the fields currently in Abyei only constitute a very small percentage of Sudan’s total production.

The African Union and the U.S. have made numerous attempts to broker a solution, but none have borne fruit. The parties -- through President Omar al-Bashir in the North and President Salva Kiir in the South -- have agreed that the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), which is tasked to facilitate negotiations on outstanding post-referendum and CPA issues, will table a new proposal toward a political solution in late May.

In the meantime, forward progress on other post-referendum issues (oil, currency, debt, and citizenship) could alter the North-South equation and ideally present a better opportunity for a mutually agreeable solution on Abyei.

Meanwhile, tensions between the NCP and SPLM have spiked in neighbouring Southern Kordofan state where elections have just been held. The results have not yet been announced, but will impact North-South relations as well as the potential re-establishment of a Misseriya-dominated Western Kordofan state (in their traditional homeland), and thus further alter the political calculus in Abyei.

Ngok Dinka and Misseriya leaders, and their allies in Juba and Khartoum respectively, are engaged in aggressive posturing in an attempt to influence the political negotiations over the future status of Abyei. Both sides have legitimate concerns and grievances, but their tactics carry enormous risks for the people of Abyei and for peaceful relations between North and South more broadly.

Some believe only international intervention will solve the crisis, but perpetuating a destabilised situation to that end is both highly dangerous and uncertain to deliver results. The risks of miscalculation and crisis escalation are extremely high. No international intervention can substitute for a political agreement between the parties  that must also have buy-in on the ground.

Security has grown ever more precarious for the people of the region. Agreements negotiated under UN auspices  -- 13 and 17 January 2011 and 4 March 2011 -- to stem increasing violence resolved that security would be provided only by newly deployed Joint Integrated Units and Joint Integrated Police Units (created under the May 2008 Abyei roadmap).

However, poor performance, prior involvement of JIU troops in large-scale clashes in 2008 and some seemingly unauthorised relocation have fuelled mistrust. Furthermore, the number of new JIU battalions currently deployed is not enough to secure the entire area; some units, fearing attacks, have reportedly even left the area.

In addition to mobilising and arming civilians, reports indicate that both the SPLA and SAF have deployed additional battalions and heavy weapons to, or near, the area. Further mobilisation or additional deployments inside Abyei would increase the chances for conflict exponentially. The security situation is made all the more precarious by the presence of heavily armed Southern police units, Popular Defence Forces, Misseriya militias and other independent, often criminal, militias. Many of these forces are only loosely controlled, if at all.

The danger of new conflict is real. Failure to halt the downward trend toward violence in Abyei could unravel the tenuous peace that has been strong enough to get through the Southern Sudan referendum, but it could also intensify proxy war in other parts of Sudan, which will continue to feed the adversarial North-South relationship that both sides have so well accommodated over the course of the CPA period. 

The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisation committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict.  Recommendations by ICG on the above topic can be found here. Originally published by ICG on May 8, 2011. 

Tuesday
Mar152011

Abyei: A flashpoint in Sudan's north-south peace process 

Sudanese family fleeing Abyei, photo courtesyAfricasia(HN, March 15, 2011) --- In the aftermath of a wave of violence in the Abyei region of Sudan, that left over 100 dead and three villages burned to the ground, thousands of civilians have fled while residents still in town are angry and disillusioned.

“Abyei still remains a flashpoint which could potentially derail the entire peace process. I urge the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement] parties to take immediate action to calm the tensions in the region and urgently reach an agreement on all outstanding issues,” said Mohamed Chande Othman, the UN independent expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan.

Othman warns that violence in this disputed territory could derail the implementation of the peace agreement that ended this country’s civil war, despite a successful referendum that endorsed the secession of the south.

Residents of Abyei were due to hold a separate referendum simultaneously with the rest of Southern Sudan in January to decide whether to become part of the North or South. Attempts to create a referendum commission, however, remain deadlocked, amid feuds between communities in the area over the right to vote.

The referendum was seen as the culmination of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended two decades of civil war between the northern and southern Sudan. The CPA paved the way for the right to self-determination for Southern Sudan.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, voicing deep concern at the violence, called on both North and South to restrain the local communities and resume and conclude negotiations on Abyei as a matter of priority.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson he deplored the fact that the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which has intensified its patrolling activities on the ground and is on standby to reinforce its peacekeeping presence if the need arises, has been consistently refused access to areas of conflict and considerably restricted in its movement. He appealed to both parties to allow unhindered access to these areas to assess the situation and immediate needs on the ground.

In a statement issued at the end of his visit to Sudan, conducted from 6 to 13 March, Mr. Othman urged authorities to investigate all reports of killings and attacks on civilians in Abyei and bring those responsible to justice.

 “Since the referendum, there have been five major incidents of violent clashes in Abyei between the local police and armed Misseriya tribesmen which have resulted in the death of civilians and massive displacements,” Mr. Othman added.

Separately, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, Haile Menkerios, last week participated in two meetings of the Abyei Standing Committee in Khartoum, during which representatives of the north and their counterparts from the south were unable to move beyond the issue of the deployment of Joint Integrated Units in Abyei.

UNMIS, meanwhile, verified that both sides have reinforced their positions within the Abyei area, including the confirmed presence of Sudanese Armed Forces and Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) troops not affiliated with the Abyei Joint Integrated Units.

Mr. Menkerios urged both sides to restrain their respective troops to minimize clashes while the political leadership discusses a final solution to the status of Abyei.

Mr. Othman also voiced concern over increasing loss of life and displacement of people as a result of criminal activity, cattle rustling and inter-communal violence in Southern Sudan, and urged the Government there to ensure the protection of civilians even as it seeks measures to address insecurity in the region.

On northern Sudan, Mr. Othman said that law enforcement authorities there continued to violate the people’s rights to fundamental rights and other freedoms, including the rights to the freedom of expression, assembly and association.

“The Government continues to hold a number of opposition political leaders, students and civil society actors in detention without charging them with an offence or affording them the right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention in a court of law,” said Mr. Othman.

He regretted Khartoum’s rejection of his request to meet with the Director General of the National Security Service (NSS) to discuss concerns over the detentions without trial.

“Once again, I wish to draw attention to the guarantees of freedom of expression and freedom from arbitrary arrests and detention enshrined in Sudan’s national constitution and in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which Sudan has ratified,” said Mr. Othman.

On Darfur, Mr. Othman said the human rights situation for civilians, including internally displaced persons (IDPs), there remains dire.

‘Fighting between Government forces and the armed movements has intensified since December last year and the warring factions have failed to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law,” he said.

During a visit to Zam Zam IDP camp near El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state, Mr. Othman said he had seen the plight of some of the people displaced by the fighting.

“Their situation is deplorable, to say the least. I am concerned that without immediate humanitarian assistance the situation of these people, many of whom have been displaced for a second or third time, could reach catastrophic levels,” he said.

Meanwhile, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Georg Charpentier, today voiced concern over deteriorating security in Jonglei and Upper Nile states in Southern Sudan, where the southern army is engaged in operations against renegade groups.

Humanitarian agencies have been unable to reach many people who fled areas affected by the fighting due to insecurity, Mr. Charpentier said in a press release.

The SPLA has declared some parts of Jonglei, including parts of Fangak, Pigi and Ayod counties, “no-go areas” during the military operations. UN humanitarian agencies and their NGO partners are unable to go to the those areas to assess the needs of affected civilians, according to Mr. Charpentier.

Humanitarian agencies are negotiating with the SPLA for access to people in need and asking for the establishment of a humanitarian corridor to enable vulnerable populations to leave the areas of conflict.

-HUMNews Staff, UN News

Thursday
Nov182010

Late, but not too late, for Sudan (Perspective) 

Sudanese receiving medical attention - photo: MSF(HN, November 18, 2010) Well, we're in it now. What we do best. Diplomacy. The White House has dispatched Senator John Kerry to Sudan with a proposal for peace between the North and South. It’s a giant step toward avoiding the kind of bloodshed that killed more than two million people in Sudan’s previous 20-year North-South civil war, which ended only in 2005 – and is threatening to erupt once again.

In recent months, President Barack Obama has stepped up his own involvement and that of senior figures in his administration in support of a peace strategy for Sudan. On his behalf, Kerry has delivered a package of proposals designed to break the logjam that has brought the North and South to a dangerous crossroads.

We have written a memo that spells out some of the essential elements of what a grand bargain for peace in Sudan could look like. If you’re interested in the specifics of a possible peace deal – and in actions that you can take to support it – go to www.sudanactionnow.org.

There is little time to waste. On January 9, 2011, the people of Southern Sudan will vote for independence from the North, taking with them up to three-quarters of the country’s known oil reserves and placing millions of civilians in the direct path of war.

The government in Khartoum (the capital in the North) is led by Omar al-Bashir, whose accomplishments, which include overseeing war crimes during the previous North-South war and engineering the atrocities in Darfur, have brought him arrest warrants for war crimes and genocide from the International Criminal Court.

And yet renewed war in Sudan is not inevitable. A complex but workable peace can be brokered if all interested parties become more deeply involved. The current moment requires robust diplomacy – the kind that can leave a bad taste in your mouth, but that gets the job done. We believe that Kerry is a skilled emissary and can help the parties find the compromises necessary for peace.

Any agreement preventing a return to war would necessarily involve the National Congress Party, representing the North, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, representing the South. But it would also involve the United States, whose post-referendum relationship with the two parties will have enormous influence over whether a deal gets done.

We believe that a grand bargain to lay the foundation for lasting peace between the North and South would oblige the parties to:

·        hold the Southern Sudan referendum on time and fully respect and implement the results;

·        reach a mutually satisfactory agreement concerning the territory of Abyei, a key disputed border area;

·        craft a multi-year revenue-sharing arrangement in which the oil wealth of Abyei and key border areas could be divided equitably between the North and South, with a small percentage going to the Arab Misseriya border populations for development purposes;

·        demarcate the uncontested 80% of the border and refer the remaining 20% to binding international arbitration;

·        create serious protections for minority groups, with consideration of joint citizenship for certain populations, backed by significant international consequences for attacks on southerners in the North or northerners in the South.

The US role as the invisible third party to the agreement involves a series of incentives offered to the regime in Khartoum to ensure agreement and implementation of a peace deal. In exchange for action on the North-South and Darfur peace efforts, the US would implement a clear, sequenced, and binding path to normalization of relations.

This would involve – in order – removal of Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, exchange of ambassadors, lifting of unilateral sanctions, and support for bilateral and multilateral debt relief, together with other economic measures by international financial institutions. Conversely, the US must be prepared to lead international efforts to impose severe consequences on any party that plunges the country back into war.

Peace and security in Darfur should be an essential benchmark for normalized relations between the US and Sudan. The Obama administration should hold firm on this through the coming rounds of negotiation, and should appoint a senior official to help coordinate US policy on Darfur in order to ensure that peace efforts there receive the same level of attention as the North-South efforts.

Peacekeepers in Sudan - photo: UN What is needed now is political will – and not only in the US – to sustain this diplomacy. The European Union and Sudan’s neighbors – in particular Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda – will also need to play a robust role. And China’s diplomacy in Sudan, where it has invested massively in developing the country’s oil resources, will be a test of whether or not it intends to be a responsible stakeholder in Africa and the wider world.

Ensuring that governments work toward peace is where you come in. Keep the pressure on them. Support the peace process. Your voice can prevent a war. Not guns. Not money. Just our voices.

The way to peace in Sudan is not simple, but it is achievable. There are hard choices to be made. We can make those choices now, or we can persuade ourselves that peace is too hard or too complex, and then look on resignedly from the sidelines as hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children needlessly die. It’s up to us.

George Clooney is an actor and co-founder of the NGO Not On Our Watch. John Prendergast is co-founder of the Enough Project and co-author of The Enough Moment: The Fight to End Human Rights Crimes in Africa.

This article was originally printed in the Project Syndicate www.project-syndicate.org

 

Wednesday
Oct202010

(Report) SUDAN: The clock is ticking 

George Clooney speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC about his recent trip to Sudan (photo HUMNews) (HN, October 20, 2010) --- Actor George Clooney and author and human rights activist John Prendergast recently told the Washington political leadership - including President Obama, that the United States needs to stay involved in Sudan to avoid an “inferno.”

They also urged the US to put pressure on leaders in advance of southern Sudan’s independence referendum scheduled for 9 January 2011.

“We have an opportunity to prevent war from happening instead of mopping up a mess later on,” Clooney said.

Clooney is a co-founder of ‘Not On Our Watch’, an organization whose mission it is to focus global attention and resources to stop and prevent atrocities in Darfur;  Prendergast is co-founder of the Enough Project.  The two were in Washington reporting on their recent fact finding trip to Sudan.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement 

The referendum was promised by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which was signed in 2005, ending decades of the north-south civil war. Under the agreement, the south formed its own government, which has limited autonomy and in which the north has a small representation. South Sudan is represented in the government of national unity, which is led by the Khartoum-based National Congress Party (NCP).

According to Clooney and Prendergast there have been 5 years to implement the CPA. However, Prendergast said: “The ball got dropped the day the peace agreement was signed...as we do so often we go off to the next thing and left the Sudanese to their own devices.  If we don’t urgently attend to Sudan the south will be an inferno again.”

Sudan this week and the question of Abyei

This week President Omar al-Bashir has said he is still committed to hold the referendum on the south’s independence, but insisted both sides first had to settle differences over their borders. Other oustanding issues include the sharing of oil, debt and Nile river water.

Southern Sudan president Salva Kiir vowed that the country would not return to civil war. "We do not want Abyei to become a potential trigger for a conflict again between the south and the north," Kiir said.

Much of the attention focuses on Abyei - a historical bridge between north and south which sits in the oil-rich Muglad Region.

Sudan (photo: CIA World Factbook) In July 2009, an international tribunal redefined the borders of the disputed oil region by splitting the contested zone between the two sides. In its ruling the tribunal, seated at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, overruled a decision by an international commission that Sudan's government rejected four years earlier. The ruling gives the north uncontested rights to rich oil deposits like the Heglig oil field, which had previously been placed within the Abyei region, which sits on the border between north and south. But the decision leaves at least one oil field in Abyei and gives a symbolic victory to the Ngok Dinka, an ethnic group loyal to southern Sudan that has pushed to join it in a referendum.

Last Thursday, October 14, Dirdiri Mohammad Ahmad, of the National Congress Party (NCP), said the January 9 vote on whether it should be part of the north or the south of the country could be delayed for months or the territorial row would be settled without a poll.

"It is very clear that right now it is not possible to have the Abyei referendum on 9 January, 2011. We all agree that this is no longer practical," he told reporters in Khartoum

 Ahmad said Khartoum and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) could reach "a conclusion on the final status of the Abyei area" without having to decide the matter through a referendum.

Abyei's administrator and a member of the SPLM, Deng Arop Kuol, said the region's residents would not accept a delay and may hold their own vote without the central government's approval.

"A delayed vote is unacceptable," he said. "The people of Abyei are still holding out for the referendum to be held on January 9. If the government does not give them that option, we can have a self-run referendum."

Another real concern in Sudan is that, two years after the peace treaty, much of the south is heavily militarized. The reason has been that the north has grown dependent on the oil from the south and if the south secedes, the north stands to lose billions of dollars yearly.

Both the north and south claim the oil-producing region and fought over it during the two-decades long war, in which around two million people died.  

A delay of either the Abyei or secession referendum threatens to revive a new conflict between the two sides.

 - HUMNews Staff