SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs [19991115]

SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs [19991115]

SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs, Monday 15 November


UN humanitarian relief to include Nuba Mountains Insecurity denies food convoy access to Unity State Human rights rapporteur says situation worsening EC seeks to restore dialogue with Sudan Criticism on rights rejected Washington pushes for "humanitarian access" in Upper Nile Khartoum says "no military solution" to civil war Khartoum accepts Canadian talks offer Pibor floods cause massive displacement

SUDAN: UN humanitarian relief to include Nuba Mountains

The UN last Tuesday officially transmitted a report on the findings of its humanitarian mission in the Nuba Mountains to the Government of Sudan and the leadership of the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). Following this mission, for the first time ever, the UN humanitarian programme for Sudan will next year include multi-sectoral assistance for populations in the Nuba Mountains, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated on Wednesday.

The Nuba Mountain programme, with an estimated budget of US $10 million, will be included in the Inter-Agency Consolidated Appeal for Sudan for the year 2000 "to address essential humanitarian needs as well as medium-term recovery and rehabilitation needs", he added. The UN should strive to address initiatives in both government and SPLM areas of the region "as a single aid and rehabilitation programme that promotes the peace process through preventive development initiatives", the mission report stated.

[see also separate IRIN report of 12 November: "Nuba Mountain report focuses on reducing dependency"; for Executive Summary of the Inter-Agency Mission Report, see]

Insecurity denies food convoy access to Unity State

A barge convoy of food aid has been forced to return to Kosti from Malakal after insecurity in Unity State prevented it from proceeding upstream, the latest WFP emergency report has stated. No barges have reached Juba since May but limited quantities of food have been airlifted to cover the needs of the most vulnerable groups, the agency stated. The Juba convoy was to deliver food to over 300,000 people living in the Nile river basin. Meanwhile, annual humanitarian needs assessments for north and south Sudan have been completed and reports are being finalised by the joint government, UN and NGO assessment team, WFP added.

Human rights rapporteur says situation worsening

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Sudan, Leonardo Franco, has reported some progress on the country's rights record, but said "the population was still being devastated by the low-level civil war in which neither side respected human rights or humanitarian law". At a UN meeting on human rights issues, Franco welcomed the 1998 constitution and Sudan's stated commitment to democracy and humanitarian law. However, he said bombings, forced displacements, kidnappings, forced labour, recruitment of child soldiers, the obstruction of humanitarian aid, and allegations of abductions and slavery were continuing.

The human rights situation was worsening "because of strategies implemented in relation to exploitation of oil resources", Franco said. While the discovery of oil was welcome, "steps taken to preserve control of Sudan's oil fields, such as the displacement of peoples and ethnic cleansing, were unacceptable". There were also serious reports of kidnapping and slavery due to tribe-related issues and war strategy that could not be ignored, he added.

Criticism on rights rejected

Ibrahim Ahmed, the Sudanese representative to the UN Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee, to which Franco addressed his remarks, welcomed his recognition of Sudan's commitment to democracy but said he failed to note the government's effort to establish peace, and that the SPLM was "solely responsible for violations relating to the conflict - such as displacements, abductions and mistreatment of women and children". It was unfortunate that Franco had referred to allegations of slavery "without devoting any consideration to the question during his recent visit" and despite their rejection by "credible international figures," Ahmed added.

Regarding the establishment of a permanent UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) presence in Sudan, Ahmed said "it was far less expensive and more effective to build national capacity" because the government was "fully committed to promoting and protecting human rights".

EC seeks to restore dialogue with Sudan

The EC on Wednesday proposed renewing a dialogue with the Sudanese government, cut off in 1996 amid alleged human rights abuses, in order to promote peace, democracy and human rights. The Finnish foreign ministry's Africa and Middle East director Tuunanen Heikki, leading a four-day mission to Khartoum, noted "some encouraging actions" by the government and said that, through dialogue, the EC could get to know how the government would implement measures it had taken to meet its declared objectives. These included "peace, democratisation, human rights and relations with neighbouring countries and the international community". These were the central issues determining relations between the EC and other countries, AFP news agency quoted Heikki as saying.

Washington pushes for "humanitarian access" in Upper Nile

The US special envoy for Sudan, Harry Johnston, has pressed representatives of the Khartoum government to a ban on humanitarian aid access in four locations of the western Upper Nile region in southern Sudan. Johnston made the call during a five-country mission in support of the IGAD peace process, citing "credible reports" from the area of "a campaign of forced displacement by the government to clear civilian populations out of the area of the oilfields and the pipeline", a US government press release stated.

Khartoum says "no military solution" to civil war

The government has agreed with a visiting South African delegation that peace in southern Sudan depends on the IGAD (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) process and a complementary Egyptian/Libyan initiative, and that "there was no military solution to the problem." The South Africans, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad, met Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail and Speaker of the Sudanese Assembly Hassan Al-Turabi among other senior officials during a four-day visit to discuss the economic and political situations in South Africa and Sudan, and to consolidate relations between the two, according to a joint statement reported by the South African Press Agency on Wednesday.

Khartoum accepts Canadian talks offer

Sudan has said it is prepared to accept an offer by Canada to hold peace talks in Ottawa with southern Sudanese rebels in an effort to end the 16-year civil war, Radio Canada International reported on Wednesday. Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy, who proposed the talks last month, has also invited Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) leader John Garang but it is not known whether he will accept the invitation, the radio added.

Pibor floods cause massive displacement

Some 75,000 people were affected by severe flash floods in Pibor town and surrounding areas of East Jonglei State, southern Sudan, in mid-October, with a "massive displacement" of people and cattle to higher ground. Pibor town is currently divided into three "islands", and the situation for the affected Murle people has been worsened by a low state of general health for some time, the general isolation of the area and the absence of either road connections with other regions, or all-year transport on the Pibor river, according to a joint Jonglei State-UN report last week.

The immediate requirements identified were human and veterinary medicines, food, shelter, utensils and drinking water. Longer-term proposals included water catchment and embankment works, as well as the construction of an all-weather road linking Pibor with Malakal - the main Nile river port for south Sudan, the report added.


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

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