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UN negotiating Sudan peacekeepers increase: Ban

by Staff Writers
United Nations (AFP) Nov 16, 2010
The United Nations hopes to send extra peacekeeping troops Sudan to head off new conflict around a self-determination vote in southern Sudan, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday.

But amid fears of a return to civil war, Ban told a UN Security Council ministerial meeting that the UN force could not prevent war if "widespread hostilities" erupt around the January 9 vote.

South Sudan and the oil-rich region of Abyei are to hold secession votes as part of a 2005 accord which ended two decades of civil war in Sudan in which two million people died.

Tensions have risen again between the two sides as troubled preparations for the vote move slowly ahead.

Ban highlighted "hostile public statements and accusations of ceasefire violations, which risk heightening anxiety and provoking isolated security incidents that can escalate in a wider conflict."

He said the United Nations was working with the Khartoum government and the South Sudan authorities on "options for a possible augmentation of additional UN troops to increase referendum and post-referendum security."

The UN force, UNAMID, also wants to step up efforts to "verify possible ceasefire violations and to protect civilians throughout the mission area."

UNAMID currently has about 10,000 troops in Sudan.

"However, the presence of UN troops will not not be enough to prevent the return to war should widespread hostilities erupt," Ban stressed, calling on the leaders of both sides to "refrain from inflammatory statements."

He said UN agencies and other humanitarian groups have contingency plans to provide assistance in case of "referendum related violence."

Ban appealed for international donations for the 63 million dollars needed "to pre-position humanitarian assistance near potential hotspots.

"We will also need to ensure access to the contested border areas," he said.

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