Sudan: UN envoy continues talks with southern rebel leaders, civil society

15 August 2005

Resuming his efforts to help keep Sudan’s peace process on track following the death of influential ex-rebel leader and first Vice-President John Garang, the top United Nations envoy in Sudan has met with opposition leaders in the capitol, Khartoum, and will head to strife-riven Darfur to assess the humanitarian and security situation there.

The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) reported that Jan Pronk, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative, met Friday with senior members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and civil society groups, completing a mission he began last month but interrupted two weeks ago following the helicopter crash that killed Mr. Garang.

The meeting focused mainly on the Abyei Boundary Commission's report, which was released in mid-July. Abyei is a disputed enclave in northern Bahr el-Ghazal province, and negotiations on its status were considered a main concern in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which in January ended Sudan’s two decade war between southern-based rebels and the Government. Mr. Pronk urged that the issue be dealt with as a high priority item on the agenda of the Presidency.

Mr. Pronk left Khartoum today for a two-day visit to North and South Darfur. This visit is part of regular working visits Darfur, where a separate, two-year conflict has killed at least 180,000 people and displaced nearly 2 million others. He is expected to discuss humanitarian and security related issues with the local authorities, UN staff and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well as with the field commanders of the rebel groups.

Meanwhile, on the humanitarian front, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has expressed concern about the chronically impoverished regions of Bahr el-Ghazal in the South, and the Kordofans in central Sudan and Red Sea state and Kassala in the East.

At the height of the annual "hunger gap" and rainy season, WFP is increasing its assistance, raising tonnages of food aid for hard-hit areas across the central belt of south Sudan and in the East to give food assistance to an additional 267,000 people from June to September. The East and Bahr El Ghazal account for 70 per cent of the increased needs in Sudan.

At the same time agency has warned that its response is severely hampered by critical funding shortages, the late arrival of donor funds and severe shortages of Jet-A1 fuel - as well as limitations on road deliveries and airlifts imposed by the rainy season. These problems sabotaged WFP's efforts to deliver by air and pre-position food aid before rains cut road access in much of the south.


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