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UN works to expand access to needy in conflict-torn Sudan

UN works to expand access to needy in conflict-torn Sudan

The United Nations has succeeded in expanding the reach of its humanitarian operations in the Sudan, where ongoing clashes have displaced millions of people who require outside aid to survive, a senior UN official reported today.

Currently, the Sudan is facing “one of the largest humanitarian emergencies in the world today,” Kevin Kennedy, Chief of the UN’s Humanitarian Emergency Branch, told a press briefing in New York, pointing out that the UN and its partners were working to meet the needs of over 3 million Sudanese.

A recent mission to the country by Tom Vraalson, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs for the Sudan, had achieved progress in expanding the UN’s reach in the country, Mr. Kennedy said. He noted that the envoy’s trip came at a particularly critical time, as it followed “a series of attacks on civilians by the Government of Sudan throughout the month of February.”

While in the Sudan earlier this month, Ambassador Vraalson had worked to support an effort to expand the access of humanitarian agencies to needy Sudanese in the Nuba Mountains – a region that the UN had only been able to access intermittently in recent years. The envoy was actively supporting the implementation of an agreement to deploy international observers to monitor the declared ceasefire as well as the shipment of relief goods to the area. “This is a significant step forward because it allows agencies and NGOs to deliver assistance to people who are very much in need,” said Mr. Kennedy.

He added that the envoy – who met with the parties to the conflict – had secured an agreement to gain “nearly full access” for immunization drives to certain areas.

Concerning food airlifts throughout conflict-ridden southern Sudan, Mr. Kennedy said discussions between Mr. Vraalson and officials had served to cut the number of denied locations to some 30 out of the 230 requested. “While we still very much regret those areas that we cannot fly to, it is a step forward in terms of our access and ability to deliver assistance,” Mr. Kennedy said.