UN relief chief visits Sudan to discuss food insecurity in two states

4 January 2012

Reports from people fleeing two troubled Sudanese states indicate food insecurity and rising levels of malnutrition, the United Nations humanitarian chief warned today.

Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator met with Sudan’s Social Welfare Minister Amira Al Fadil in Khartoum, the capital.

In a press statement, she stressed the need for “a long-term political solution” to the crisis in the Sudanese states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, which have been riddled with ethnic and political conflict since May last year.

The ongoing fighting has pitted Government forces against the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), a rebel group aligned with forces in South Sudan, and was previously confined to Southern Kordofan state before it spread to neighbouring Blue Nile.

The humanitarian situation in both states was exacerbated when fighting disrupted the major crop season last year, causing people to flee at the start of the planting season in Southern Kordofan and abandon their crops in Blue Nile when conflict erupted there later. Coupled with erratic rainfall, the shortage of food stocks have led to a doubling of prices.

After her meeting with the minister, Ms. Amos outlined a four-point plan promoting cooperation between the UN and Sudan in an effort to halt the escalating food crisis in the restive states.

“We have agreed with the Government of Sudan to share information and data pertaining to the humanitarian situation in the two states in order to ensure that we meet the needs of the people,” she said, noting that the Government would establish a mechanism to ensure continuous dialogue between Khartoum and the UN.

Ms. Amos added that the UN and Khartoum would “continue to discuss ways to reach those people in SPLM-N held areas who are currently not able to access any help or support” as the humanitarian indicators in those areas were “particularly alarming.”

Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, which lie on the border between Sudan and its newly-independent neighbour of South Sudan, have been the scene of deadly fighting that has displaced tens of thousands of people over the past year. UN officials have repeatedly called on all parties to cease hostilities and to ensure access so that humanitarian workers can reach those in need.


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