UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs, 29 June
Nuba mountains mission completed
A UN humanitarian assessment mission to rebel-held areas of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan found evidence of malnutrition among children but no signs of widespread famine, a UN press release said. The 19-27 June mission visited five villages where it found "significant humanitarian needs in the areas of food security, water, health and basic education." The UN had negotiated access to the area with the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), which declared a four-day ceasefire to allow the team to assess needs, the release said. It was the first UN humanitarian mission to the area in 10 years.
UN Assistant Emergency Relief Coordinator Ross Mountain, who led the assessment team, told reporters in Geneva on Monday that the mission had found "a basic subsistence economy in a very poor society." Although the food situation was difficult, there was a feeling that the population could manage to cope, provided the rains this year were as good as last year, according to a UN summary received by IRIN. There had been reports of "substantial famine" in the area in 1998 due to failed 1997 rains, Mountain said.
There was a need for targetted food aid as well as seeds and tools, he said. The water supply was "extremely difficult" in the dry season, the three primary health care clinics in the area had "very limited availability" of drugs and supplies, and most children had to walk up to two hours to get to one of the region's "rudimentary" schools, without books or materials, Mountain added. Negotiations have already started for follow-up access to deliver the humanitarian assistance. The UN was "relatively optimistic" of getting that access, but there were no plans for a permanent UN presence in the area, he added.
SPLA investigates Chukudum problems
A commission set up by SPLA leader John Garang has found that recent insecurity in the Chukudum area of eastern Equatoria had been caused by different armed groups. An SPLA statement received by IRIN said the National Mobilisation and Reconciliation Commission found that those responsible had included a local pro-government militia, armed criminals consisting mainly of SPLA "deserters" known locally as Mujirimoi, and SPLA soldiers reacting - at times excessively - to the activities of the two other groups. The statement said the SPLA was "working hard" to bring the situation under control. "We are trying to deny Didinga area to NIF (government) influence and to bring peace, stability and socio-economic development to Didinga land," the statement added.
SPLA denies reported role of Great Lakes commanders
The SPLM on Tuesday dismissed as "propaganda" a report in 'The Indian Ocean Newsletter' that claimed a planned SPLA offensive against the government had been "fine-tuned" by several Rwandan, Burundian and Ugandan officers. The newsletter, dated 12 June, also said some SPLA troops were under the supervision of Rwandan, Burundian and Ugandan commanders. SPLM spokesman Samson Kwaje told IRIN: "The war in Sudan is fought purely by Sudanese people and in the wider context under the umbrella of the National Democratic Alliance, but there are no foreigners," he said.
Meanwhile, the pro-government Alwan newspaper reported on Monday that government troops had recaptured the "strategic" town of Akobo on Sunday after two days of fighting.
Food aid for displaced squatters
WFP has provided food relief to more than 10,200 internally-displaced persons (IDPs) who were recently displaced again as a result of the demolition of their shelters in four Khartoum squatter areas, a recent WFP report said. The food was distributed through the NGO ADRA. The IDPs have "stepped up construction of new dwellings in the new site" in anticipation of the rainy season, the report said. Meanwhile, humanitarian sources told IRIN that only limited social services were presently available at a site called Ed Babiker, where a part of the affected displaced squatter population had been relocated. Tens of thousands of squatters, mainly displaced people from southern Sudan, are estimated to have been affected by the government's urban renewal programme since 1991.
Flood-recovery funds approved
The Saudi-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and Sudan on Sunday signed agreements that will provide US$ 9.5 million to help address the effects of last year's serious floods in Sudan. The Sudan News Agency (SUNA) said the IDB will provide a US$ 8.5 million loan to help overcome the effects of the floods while US$ 1 million will finance a project to rehabilitate flood-affected schools, SUNA said. An inter-agency assessment mission last November estimated that US$ 230 million would be required to help the country recover from the floods, the worst in Sudan in over 50 years.
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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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