SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs [19991126]

SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs [19991126]

SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs, Friday 26 November 1999


WFP warns of "looming crisis" in the south
UN calls for "safe and unhindered access"
OLS makes contingency plans for emergency response
US $126 million humanitarian appeal launched
Chronic insecurity and poverty continue
Heavy rains bring malaria epidemic in Kordofan
Bashir meets NDA leader al-Mahdi
Committee on humanitarian assistance to meet in Geneva

WFP warns of "looming crisis" in the south

WFP has warned of a catastrophe in the making in southern Sudan because
humanitarian agencies are being denied access to vulnerable populations by
inter-factional fighting and government restrictions on humanitarian
flights. "A humanitarian crisis is looming in this part of the country and
we are urging all parties to the conflict to provide total access and to
guarantee the delivery of food," the WFP representative in Sudan, Mohamed
Saliheen, warned on Wednesday.

Humanitarian agencies could not get access to many areas of Western Upper
Nile in October and November and "140,000 targeted and vulnerable people
could not get their emergency food assistance," Saliheen said. This
included Unity State, where the government's oil programme is alleged to
have involved infringements on the population's human rights and a
worsening of the civil war. In the Nile river corridor between Malakal and
Juba, 300,000 people could not be given their rations due to fighting and
the government flight ban, he added. "If this combination of factors
continues, we could face the same horrifying tragedy that happened in Bahr
el-Ghazal last year," Saliheen said, referring to the famine which cost
thousands of lives.

UN calls for "safe and unhindered access"

The UN General Assembly on Monday expressed concern at the impact of the
conflict on human rights and the situation of the civilian population,
especially women and children. It passed a resolution urging all parties
to the conflict in Sudan "to grant safe and unhindered access to
international agencies and humanitarian organisations" so that they could
deliver assistance to civilians. It also called for the combatants to
"respect and protect human rights, fundamental freedoms and international
humanitarian law".

The US abstained, calling it a "flawed resolution" and alleging that Sudan
had used "starvation as a tactic of war", while Finland urged the parties
to "stop immediately the use of weapons, including landmines, against the
civilian population" and pressed the Sudan People's Liberation Army
(SPLA), in particular, "to stop immediately using civilian premises for
military purposes".

OLS makes contingency plans for emergency response

The humanitarian situation in Western Upper Nile continued to deteriorate
in the week to 21 November due to limited flight access and "escalated
fighting" in the area, Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) reported on Sunday.
The UK's 'Financial Times' on Friday reported that at least 300 soldiers
had been killed in the last two weeks in fighting between the South Sudan
Defence Force (SSDF) militia and government troops in Unity State,
especially around the state capital Rubkona. The OLS agencies have
"continued to set up contingency plans and pre-position resources in
Lokichokkio (northwestern Kenya) for emergency response should access and
security improve".

Meanwhile, many of the people who fled Bentiu when fighting erupted in
July have returned, and CARE has resumed emergency programmes in the town,
including supplementary feeding. However, about 10,000 people are still
living along the route between Bentiu and Rubkona, OLS added.

US $126 million humanitarian appeal launched

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Tuesday
launched its Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for the year 2000, appealing
to donors for US $125.6 million - with US $67 million of that sum
earmarked for food security. The appeal is divided into six main sectoral
programmes, aiming to assist human rights protection and peace-building,
while supporting food security and ensuring that vulnerable populations
have access to basic services in health, water and sanitation, and
education. It also makes provision for a previously flagged US $10.4
million multi-sectoral assistance package for the Nuba Mountains.

1999 a better year, but chronic insecurity and poverty continue

The humanitarian situation in Sudan improved during 1999, particularly in
the areas affected last year by famine in Bahr el Ghazal, the appeal said.
A good harvest and relative stability had enabled humanitarian
organisations to carry out both "life-saving operations and activities
aimed at reinforcing local coping mechanisms and self-reliance".
Nonetheless, insecurity, lack of access to vulnerable populations and
"disregard for humanitarian principles" continued to be major constraints,
the appeal document stated. "Chronic insecurity and poverty continues to
affect the survival of civilians in several parts of Sudan", especially in
southern Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, southern Blue Nile Region and eastern
Sudan along the border with Eritrea, it added. [see appeal document at]

Heavy rains bring malaria epidemic in Kordofan

The national department of malaria director Omar Zayid Baraka said on
Thursday an acute increase in malignant malaria in the Kordofan state
capital of Obayid was due to exceptionally heavy rainfall of 650 mm, not
seen in Kordofan in 50 years. He said the strain of malaria was
particularly virulent - bringing spasms, coma, fracturing of red
corpuscles and jaundice, among other complications, news organisations
reported. The ministry of health has disclosed that the outbreak has
spread to epidemic proportions in eastern Sudan.

In Arua, meanwhile, an outbreak of cholera has been reported and
humanitarian agencies working in the western Nile corridor have been
requested to monitor the situation and report any cases in their areas of
operation, OLS reported.

Bashir meets NDA leader al-Mahdi

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has had a meeting in Djibouti with the
opposition Umma Party leader and former prime minister, Sadiq al-Mahdi,
Sudanese television reported. Bashir and other heads of state in the
regional Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) were in
Djibouti for a summit meeting on Friday and Saturday, during which the
conflicts in Sudan and Somalia were expected to dominate the agenda.

Al-Mahdi, a senior figure in the opposition umbrella National Democratic
Alliance (NDA) had been pressurised by NDA allies at a leadership
conference in Kampala earlier this week to cancel his then proposed
meeting with Bashir. The coalition feared that it would threaten the
cohesion of the NDA and that al-Mahdi wanted to make his own deal with the
president, news organisations reported.

Committee on humanitarian assistance to meet in Geneva

The third round meeting of the Technical Committee on Humanitarian
Assistance (TCHA) is scheduled to be held on 14-15 December 1999 in
Geneva. Among the meeting's concerns will be policy and programme issues
for agencies working in Sudan, including access to vulnerable populations,
security and the continuation of humanitarian ceasefires, humanitarian
sources told IRIN on Thursday. The government of Sudan, the Sudan People's
Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M), Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) and
Kenya, chair of the Sudanese peace initiative under the Inter-Governmental
Authority for Development (IGAD), have been invited to attend.


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Keyword: IRIN

Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D

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