Will talks grant full access to Sudan conflict zones?

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

As the Sudanese government and rebel groups meet this week in Addis Ababa, the aid community is again keeping their fingers crossed for full humanitarian access and funding for projects in the conflict-torn state of Blue Nile.

U.N. agencies are hoping that the week-long talks between delegations from Khartum and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North will pave the way for full aid access in rebel-held areas in the border states, including South Kordofan, where the government has restricted all aid organizations from delivering assistance.

The repeated failure to gain access in the two border states has not only affected the humanitarian situation in the areas, but also the aid groups themselves, which are now hoping to raise more money for their projects.

Funding is a big issue in Sudan. Earlier this year, Devex reported on competition for resources in the country and how it has fueled disunity between U.N. agencies and international NGOs.

Only 27 percent of the $984 million U.N. appeal for Sudan in 2013 has been covered to date.

OCHA Sudan’s Damian Rance told Devex that these access restrictions have led several donors “not necessarily wanting to pump up money, because there was no guarantee that projects would take place.”

Some U.N. agencies have been allowed back into Blue Nile recently. The World Food Program, for instance, has started providing food aid to some 12,000 people in Qeissan and has reached 10,800 displaced people in Al-Kormok district  former strongholds of the SPLM-N, WFP Sudan’s Amor Almagro explained in a separate interview.

International NGOs are still not permitted to enter the two border states, including government-controlled areas, Rance confirmed with Devex, though he said there has been some indications that iNGOs may be able to gain access soon.

But now that more areas are becoming accessible  at least for U.N. agencies  “it would be good if more funding would flow,” he said.

An aid official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said funding could also be tied up with donors, which also want to gain more access to the conflict-torn areas.

OCHA this week is doing a special coverage on Blue Nile as part of its advocacy efforts to raise the humanitarian issue and funding for projects. How this will play out in the ongoing talks however remains to be seen.

The two separate tripartite agreements put forward last year by the United Nations, the African Union and the Arab League and signed by both Khartoum and SPLM-N aimed at addressing the issue, but have achieved no significant results.

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About the author

  • Ravelo jennylei

    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.