UNHCR concerned at potential for rising displacement numbers in Sudan's Abyei

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is concerned about the risk of wider civilian displacement in the area south of Abyei in Sudan. A field visit there late last week found the town virtually emptied of its normal population of 50-55,000 inhabitants. Large numbers of fighters were present on the streets. Pilfering was openly going on, with people apparently organizing batches of stolen belongings.

The UN team making this visit saw a stream of civilians heading south towards and past Agok. A number of villages just south of Abyei were burning. Many people feared that Agok itself might soon be attacked.

Thus far 31,256 displaced people have been registered in Warrap State and 27,961 in Agok itself - which is part of the Abyei area. We have also seen smaller numbers of displaced in neighbouring states to the southwest of Abyei.

Currently, assessment teams are working to reach areas that have been cut off due to insecurity and heavy rains. In Agok, displaced people have told us that many people had gone into hiding in the bush to avoid being caught in the fighting. We are seeing a number of cases in which families have been split during the fighting.

As of late yesterday looting and sporadic shooting was continuing. Colleagues witnessed trucks carrying looted goods leaving Abyei.

For further information on this topic, please contact:

In Geneva: Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba on mobile +41 79 249 3483