NGO tasks UN Security Council on Sudan's referendum

New York- US (PANA) -- An international NGO, Oxfam, Wednesday urged the UN Securi ty Council to use its visit to Sudan to resolve "outstanding issues" and protect civilians from harm ahead of the referendum on southern Sudan's independence.
"With so much at stake for the people of Sudan and less than 100 days to go, tim e is running out to ensure the referendum goes peacefully,'' Oxfam said in a sta t ement.
The statement, which was made available to PANA in New York, noted that, "the lo nger uncertainty drags on, the more likely violence could flare up.
" The NGO noted that, "people in Sudan are waiting eagerly for the chance to decid e their future and expectations are extremely high.
" It also said: "Preparations for the vote are well behind schedule and some unres olved issues could trigger violence.
There is still no agreement on who will eve n be eligible to vote.
"The Abyei Referendum Commission has not formed yet and there is little progress on deciding the north-south border,'' it stressed.
According to Oxfam: "The newly announced timetable gives just a few weeks to reg ister voters across southern Sudan and the logistical challenges for the referen d um are enormous.
"Southern Sudan is one of the poorest and least developed regions on earth, with few roads and little infrastructure.
"Conducting a referendum on this scale is a huge challenge and will take a lot o f planning and time, which is rapidly running out,'' it added.
The agency further said the Security Council should ensure that, "the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) implements its mandate to protect civilians ahead of, during a n d following the referendum".

06 october 2010 17:59:00




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