The UN Security Council [official website] on Friday released a statement [text] demanding the removal of Sudanese troops from Abyei, the disputed oil-producing region between North and South Sudan. Sudanese troops invaded Abyei in May and have occupied the area since, causing an estimated 45,000 residents to flee the embattled area. The troops have looted and ransacked much of the area, including UN food stores and facilities. In their statement, the Council:
[S]trongly condemns the Government of Sudan's taking and continued maintenance of military control over the Abyei area and the resulting displacement of tens of thousands of residents of Abyei. The Council calls on the Sudanese Armed Forces to ensure an immediate halt to all looting, burning and illegal resettlement. The Council stresses that all those responsible for violations of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, as well as those who ordered those acts, will be held accountable. The Council expresses grave concern about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the area.The Council has said it will meet in the coming days to discuss the implementation of the statement.
The Council is not the first to call on leaders of both the northern and southern regions of Sudan to remove troops from the Abyei area. In May, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called for a peaceful resolution [press release; JURIST report] to the escalating conflict in Abyei. North Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir [BBC profile], has stated he will not withdraw troops from the region and insisted that the area belongs to the north. South Sudan is scheduled to become an independent nation in a matter of weeks. A total of 98.83 percent [SSRC materials] of nearly 3.8 million southern Sudanese voters voted for secession [JURIST report] in January's Southern Sudan's Independence Referendum, according to the final polling results released by the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission [official website]. After the official results were announced in the northern capital of Khartoum, al-Bashir, who campaigned against secession, issued a formal decree accepting the result [JURIST report] of the referendum. With the South's secession, the world's 193rd country will be announced on July 9 in the southern capital of Juba.