The top United Nations humanitarian official in Sudan today welcomed the beginning of direct talks between the Government and one of the main opposition groups, and urged an end to the conflict that has affected more than a million people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
The Government and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) spoke directly at a meeting under the auspices of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel in Addis Ababa on 22 and 23 April.
The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ali Al-Za’tari, today echoed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in welcoming the talks, saying that “we are encouraged by the commitment expressed by both parties to address urgent humanitarian needs.”
According to a statement from Mr. Al-Za’tari’s office, the talks also included issues related to politics and security.
Fighting between the Sudanese armed forces and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) broke out in Blue Nile state in September 2011, after neighbouring South Sudan seceded under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended a decades-long civil war.
Insecurity and movement restrictions imposed by the Government cut off the area until earlier this month, when the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it was finally able to provide the first food rations in nearly two years to families there.
“There is an urgent need to stop the fighting and get aid to all civilians in need,” said Mr. Al-Za'tari. “We cannot lose any more time. I urge the parties to continue the positive spirit and to spare no efforts to put an end to the suffering of civilians that has gone on for far too long.”
“The UN and its humanitarian partners remain ready to provide immediate relief once access opens up,” Mr. Al-Za’tari stressed, urging all donors and partners to support the efforts.
He noted that with the oncoming rainy season, which runs from April through October, it was particularly urgent to deliver food and other relief supplies before the roads become impassable.
“We also need to get seeds and tools to people before the planting season begins to ensure a successful harvest,” Mr. Al-Za’tari said.