Agreement between UN, conflicting parties to improve aid access in Sudan

Agreement between UN, conflicting parties to improve aid access in Sudan

The United Nations said today that access to southern Sudan would be enhanced as parties to the country's conflict have agreed to open the Nile River corridor, cutting the cost of delivering humanitarian supplies by enabling the use of water barges which are cheaper than airlifts.

"This important step forward will bring greater hope and help to the long-suffering people of the Sudan. The United Nations is fully geared up to support the two sides in delivering on their immediate commitments," the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sudan, Mukesh Kapila, said in a statement welcoming the agreement.

The Sudanese Government, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the UN signed the agreement at a meeting hosted this week under the auspices of the Tripartite Committee on Access and Crossline Corridors.

In addition to opening-up the Nile corridor, the parties agreed on the need to also open more roadways to enable efficient delivery of humanitarian supplies. They reiterated their full commitment to allowing access to all needy areas throughout the Sudan. In this spirit of cooperation, the Sudanese parties have asked the UN to send a barge convoy to deliver urgently needed food to the Kosti, Malakal, Bor and Juba regions along the river by 12 May.

"Over the coming days, we will also continue to work with both sides on further practical measures to improve humanitarian provision on a sustained basis," the UN official said of its efforts to alleviate the plight of a country ravaged by conflict for over 20 years, causing the displacement of more than four million people and death of two million more.