In Sudan, the fight for aid access continues

A Sudanese woman has fled to South Kordofan in 2005 and moved again to another place to flee government attacks. The country has agree to cease fighting in areas where humanitarian operations are under way, according to a report by Enough Project. Photo by: Shannon Orcutt / United to End Genocide / CC BY-NC-ND

The international community’s work in the conflict-hit border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile is only just beginning. But before work can begin, safeguards are needed to make sure Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North won’t renege on their signed agreements.

The two parties have agreed to allow humanitarian access to rebel-held areas in both states. Many see this as a positive step in finally getting aid to people affected by the fighting. But the Enough Project, a nonprofit working to fight genocide and crimes against humanity, warns of “critical discrepancies” in the memorandums of understanding, which were signed separately.

The memorandums differ in duration, scope and degree. For example, the agreement with Sudan ends 90 days after Aug. 5, the date it was signed. The agreement with SPLM-N, meanwhile, does not mention when it will end, only saying that the rebel group has to stop hostilities for a month, “subject to renewal.”

Sudan has also agreed to only cease fighting in areas where humanitarian operations are under way, according to Enough Project’s report, published Aug. 15.

Enough Project recommends several steps the international community can take to ensure these discrepancies won’t pose a challenge in the long run. These include being vigilant in the memorandums’ implementation and maintaining pressure on both parties to remain committed to the cessation of hostilities in all conflict-affected areas.

The organization also recommends that the United Nations, Arab League and African Union “immediately” deploy their joint assessment team to all areas of concern before Aug. 18. The tripartite team’s agreement with the SPLM-N allows the deployment of an assessment team two weeks from Aug. 4. The Sudanese government, meanwhile, requires a plan of action concerning field assessment.

The international community, for so long, has been advocating unhindered access to the two states, where reports of violence and dire humanitarian situation often grab headlines.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.