'Perfect storm' creates humanitarian crisis in Sudan

A top US official warned of a humanitarian crisis yesterday after tens of thousands of refugees fleeing south after the north's invasion of a disputed territory were running short of food, fuel and shelter.

County Commissioner Dominic Deng said up to 40,000 people had arrived in Turalei, a town south of the disputed region of Abyei, and at least 80,000 had fled Abyei.

On a visit to Turalei yesterday, the top US official in southern Sudan, Barrie Walkley, said there was a "perfect storm" creating a humanitarian crisis. Sudan's north is blockading border crossings, preventing food and fuel from getting to the south. Militias are attacking southern forces, and the northern army displaced tens of thousands of people by invading Abyei, he said.

Both northern and southern Sudan stake a claim to Abyei, a fertile grassland near several oil fields. Fighting between north and south broke out last week, and northern troops moved in with force.