UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs, 20 May
Wounded aid workers "stable" in Khartoum
Six relief workers picked up by a UN aircraft on Wednesday, a day after an armed attack on a river barge carrying food supplies in Unity State, have been flown to Khartoum for recuperation. Two of the six wounded in the attack, in which the co-pilot of the barge was killed, were "stable" in hospital, a WFP spokeswoman told IRIN on Thursday. The injuries were not as severe as originally feared, she added.
The barge, one of three returning north from Juba after delivering 3,300 mt of food for 359,000 people in southern Sudan, was attacked by unidentified raiders near the town of Adok shortly after 6am on Tuesday morning. The co-pilot was killed and two of three WFP workers injured: a Kenyan national shot in the leg and a Sudanese national in the back. The wounded were tended by a nurse, one of three UNICEF workers on the barge, until picked up at Malakal and flown to Khartoum on Wednesday.
While welcoming the rescue of the relief workers, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Sergio Vieira de Mello on Wednesday expressed "profound outrage" at the incident and called on all parties to ensure that "much-needed humanitarian assistance can continue to be provided safely to thousands of civilian victims of severe famine and the ongoing conflict".
WFP suspends barge convoys after attack
In light of the barge attack, WFP has suspended barge convoys, a cost-effective lifeline for more than 300,000 people in southern Sudan, pending a review of the security situation. "The barge corridor has suddenly become extremely unsafe", a WFP spokeswoman told IRIN, adding that security issues would be again be addressed with the government and the authorities in the south to ensure that relief operations can proceed without threat.
The barge attack will be among the issues addressed at a meeting of the Technical Committee on Humanitarian Assistance which is scheduled for 25-26 May in Oslo. A number of recent ceasefire violations have limited humanitarian operations in southern Sudan and the meeting will attempt to establish safe rail, road and barge corridors for relief work, a spokeswoman for Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) told IRIN on Thursday.
SPLA, government deny involvement
Khartoum has blamed the attack on the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), which has denied involvement. SPLA spokesman Samson Kwaje in turn held government forces and those of assistant president Riak Machar reponsible. Machar is a former rebel brought into government after a 1997 peace deal; his Southern Sudan Defence Forces (SSDF) have been in conflict with government troops in recent weeks over control of oilfields in Unity State.
Decline in meningitis cases
A total of 23,997 meningitis cases have been notified to the Federal Ministry of Health of Sudan, of which 1,662 people have died, according to the latest available figures. The WHO representative in Khartoum, Abdulla Assa'edi, said a mass vaccination campaign together with the onset of rain in some states had brought about a sharp decline in new cases, the BBC reported on Wednesday
However Dr Maria Santamaria of WHO told IRIN: "If we cut the support and intervention now it would be a disaster". "If we don't develop a plan, then next year will again be an emergency situation", she warned.
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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 1999
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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