Human rights groups seek US-led aid effort in 2 Sudanese states

Is the United States ready to go beyond diplomatic channels and initiate a cross-border aid operation in Sudan without the African country’s approval?

A coalition of human rights groups says it is time for U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration to do just that: Launch a cross-border humanitarian mission to help residents of South Kordofan and Blue Nile amid continued refusal of the Sudanese government to allow aid agencies into the conflict-torn states. The United Nations and the United States, among others, have requested for greater access to the two states.

>> Sudan resists international pressure for full access to 2 states>> US joins call for wider access to Sudanese states

“Concrete steps must be taken outside of the diplomatic realm to avert a famine in the two states,” the aid groups said in a letter sent to senior U.S. officials, including Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and Special Envoy to Sudan Princeton Lyman.

The U.S. government has previously talked about the possibility of launching such a mission. In a Jan. 25 briefing on the situation in Sudan, Lyman said the United States is looking at ways to deliver aid to the two states without Sudan’s approval “but we’ve made no decision to do that because it has a lot of complications.”

The human rights groups, which include Act for Sudan, Enough Project and the American Jewish World Service, noted these complications in their letter but argued that “the humanitarian situation on the ground has deteriorated to such an extent that the imperative to save lives now outweighs these logistical and political concerns.” They did urge the U.S. government to also continue pressuring Sudan for greater access through diplomatic channels.

Amid calls for the United States to act unilaterally on delivering aid to the conflict-torn states, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti warned on Friday (Feb. 3) his country will not allow food aid to reach rebels.

In an interview with a Sudanese radio station, Karti said the U.S. government has been swayed by lobby groups, whose real intention is to give food to the rebels, the Sudan Tribune reports.

“We will not allow food to reach the rebels and those talking about forcible intervention are US lobby groups,” Karti said.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.