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Agencies relocate staff in southern region over security concerns

Humanitarian agencies working in the northern Upper Nile region relocated their staff this week amid increasing insecurity and tension, according to a UN source.

"We temporarily relocated OLS [Operation Lifeline Sudan] staff from two locations in [the] Shilluk [area] again this week, because of security concerns," Ben Parker, the spokesman for the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, told IRIN on Friday. "There has been an increase in insecurity in the area since the beginning of the year," he added.

Since the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army-United (SPLM/A-U), led by Lam Akol, rejoined the mainstream SPLM/A last October, tensions and violence in the region have been flaring up.

A regional analyst told IRIN that some of Akol's Shilluk forces had rejected the merger and were involved in the recent violence, but that it was unclear how many.

The clashes in the Shilluk kingdom in northern Upper Nile have resulted in the displacement of at least 30,000 civilians, who are now gathered in various temporary sites both in government areas in and around Malakal, and SPLM/A-held locations, according to Parker.

Meanwhile, peace talks between the government and the SPLM/A are continuing in neighbouring Kenya, but have reached deadlock over the status of three disputed regions in central Sudan: the Nuba mountains, southern Blue Nile and, in particular, oil-rich Abyei.

A cessation of hostilities agreement has been in place between the government and the SPLM/A since October 2002.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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