US joins call for wider access to Sudanese states

A United Nations vehicle parked in Kurmuk, Sudan. Photo by: Arsenie Coseac / CC BY-ND

The United States has joined the call of the United Nations to allow international humanitarian agencies wider access to the conflict-afflicted states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile in Sudan.

In a letter sent to the U.N. Security Council, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the “grave unfolding humanitarian crisis” in both states can be addressed by the Sudanese government if it allows the United Nations and other international relief organizations “immediate and unimpeded access” to affected civilians in both areas of concern. Rice said the conflict in the two Sudanese border states has already severely affected 500,000 people.

Meanwhile, special U.S. envoy on Sudan Princeton Lyman has urged South Africa — the current chair of the security council — to use its influence on Sudan to help prevent a humanitarian disaster. His plea has gotten a response from Charles Nqakula, South Africa’s special envoy on Sudan, who said the country would act to ensure that the crisis is averted. Nqakula, however, did not elaborate on what actions South Africa will take on the matter.

Sudan has rejected an earlier request from the United Nations for wider humanitarian access to the conflict-torn states, where food insecurity levels are only a step away from famine levels. Sudanese Social Welfare Minister Amira al-Fadel Mohamed cited security issues as reason for the rejection. Sudan’s ambassador to South Africa Ali Yousif Alsharif, however, said his government might yield if Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa, were to make the call.

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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.