UN warns 2.8M at risk if violence breaks out in Sudan

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A southern Sudanese woman registers to vote in the town of Melut on Nov. 15. / AP /Pete Muller

JUBA, Sudan – The U.N. is planning for the possibility that 2.8 million people will be displaced in Sudan if fighting breaks out over the south’s January independence referendum, according to an internal report reviewed by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Just over two weeks remain before voters in Southern Sudan decide whether to remain with the Khartoum-based north or — more likely — to secede and create the world’s newest country.

Tensions are high over the vote. Aircraft from the northern Sudanese military have bombed areas in the south or near disputed north-south borders in recent weeks, and the U.N. report said both the northern and southern militaries have been rearming, and that many southerners possess guns and light weapons.

Both militaries have reinforced their positions along the border in recent months, hindering aid work, the report said. If either the north or the south doesn’t accept the results of the Jan. 9 referendum, the result could be a “war-like” situation, it said.

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