SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs [19990713]

SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs [19990713]

SUDAN: IRIN News Briefs, 13 July

Thousands trapped by renewed fighting in western Upper Nile

The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) on Saturday expressed fear over a "worsening humanitarian crisis", saying it was unable to deliver urgent relief assistance to some 150,000 people trapped by fighting in western Upper Nile. A WFP statement said war between two rebel factions in the area had prevented the agency from delivering food aid to people in rebel-held towns for several months, "exacerbating an already fragile situation". "This is the last straw for thousands of families already struggling to cope, trapped in a vicious cycle of war - it is a desperate situation and the turmoil just carries on," WFP's Deputy Country Director David Fletcher said. "If we don't get access to them soon we could be faced with a very serious situation in a matter of weeks," he warned.

The agency also expressed concern over thousands who left their homes last month for safety reasons and moved further inside western Upper Nile, as they were now "even more difficult to reach". WFP was equally worried that others who moved towards areas bordering northwestern Bahr el Ghazal and Jonglei would put extra strain on these areas, which are still suffering from last year's famine and floods. WFP said an additional 35,000 people in government-held areas of western Upper Nile were also in danger of being "cut off" from assistance due to a recent upsurge in insecurity, particularly around Bentiu town.

Several areas remain closed to OLS agencies

Several locations in Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile have remained closed to Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) agencies due to continued insecurity. An OLS statement said Thiek and Thou were still "no go" areas while Ajak, Tieraliet, Wuncum, Mayom Akol and Wargong in Bahr el Ghazal had been evacuated due to "tension and insecurity that often accompanies the government of Sudan supply train [between Khartoum and Bahr el Gahzal]". OLS said about nine locations in the Upper Nile were also "no go" areas because of inter-factional fighting and denial of flight clearance by the government to some areas.

Concern over cholera outbreak in Nimule and Mongale

A cholera outbreak at displaced people's camps in Nimule and Mongale, eastern Equatoria, is still causing concern, OLS reported. So far 641 patients have been registered in both locations, compared to 339 registered a week ago. Twenty-six deaths were reported, up from 20 two weeks ago. The outbreak is now spreading to Aswa, Pageri and Moli - difficult locations to access by road. Furthermore, the areas have been denied flight clearance by the government, OLS said.

Over 2,000 slaves redeemed

The Swiss-based NGO Christian Solidarity International (CSI) has freed some 2,035 slaves during a seven-day trip to southern Sudan, Reuters reported. This brings the total number of slaves redeemed by this group since 1995 to 11,000. CSI pays the equivalent of US $50 per head to Arab middlemen who buy the slaves back from their masters in the north and return them to the south. CSI has been criticised by UNICEF, human rights groups and some southern Sudanese for fuelling the slave trade and attracting imposters lured by dollars.

Opposition meets in Cairo

Leaders of the Sudanese opposition umbrella group, National Democratic Alliance (NDA), met in Cairo on Saturday to discuss the Sudanese crisis and Egypt's mediation role, the Egyptian News Agency (MENA) reported on Monday. The meeting was attended by representatives of different opposition parties, Egyptian officials and members of the diplomatic corps.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Sadiq al Mahdi said on Friday he would meet Sudan's Parliament Speaker Hassan al Turabi on 17 July in Geneva "for talks on national reconciliation", AFP reported. It noted this would be the two men's second meeting.


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Item: irin-english-1215

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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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