UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
SUDAN: International community prepares for peace in the south
NAIROBI, 21 Jan 2005 (IRIN) - Following the recent signing of a comprehensive peace accord between the government of Sudan and the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), the international community has begun preparing the ground for the implementation of the agreement.
The UN Secretary-General's special representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, on Tuesday and Wednesday met with senior officials of the SPLM/A in Rumbek, the provisional capital of southern Sudan, to discuss the continuing preparations for the deployment of a peace support mission to the region.
"We are going to propose 9,000 troops, plus military observers, to be spread throughout south Sudan," George Somerwill, deputy spokesperson for the United Nations Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS), quoted Pronk as saying in Rumbek.
Pronk said he hoped the international peacekeepers would start arriving in March, once the UN Security Council had approved the mission.
The task of the international force of almost 10,000 would be to monitor a ceasefire, but it is as yet unclear what their exact mandate would be or which countries would contribute the troops.
"Before UNAMIS can move forward, it needs a clear mandate from the Security Council first," Somerwill told IRIN on Wednesday. "The Security Council is expected to make a decision the first week of February."
Pronk was in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to discuss current and future cooperation between the UN and the African Union (AU) once the full peace support mission has been deployed.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, William Patey, Britain's ambassador to Sudan, and the Sudanese minister for external relations, Mustafa Uthman Isma'il, discussed Vice President Ali Uthman Muhammad Taha's upcoming visit to Brussels on 25 January and his talks with the EC on the resumption of development cooperation with Sudan.
"Although humanitarian assistance continued, Sudan has not received any official EC development assistance since 1991 as a result of the government's human rights record," Dex Agourides, European Commission (EC) liason officer for Sudan, told IRIN.
"Under the 2002 Cotonou Partnership Agreement with the ACP [African, Caribbean and the Pacific] countries, the European Union (EU) reserved approximately US $519 million in development assistance for a 2002-2007, Sudanese five-year program," Agourides added. "Now that a peace agreement has been signed, this money might be released for the focal areas of food security and education."
Also, as the UN's Joint Assessment Mission and the World Bank prepared an evaluation of the reconstruction needs of northern and southern Sudan for a meeting of donor countries in Oslo, Norway, in April, the bank announced it would reopen its office in Khartoum after a 10-year absence.
The World Bank country director, Ishac Diwan, said on Monday that the assessment would precede a World Bank plan to manage foreign donations for Sudan from two multi-donor trust funds - one for the north and one for the south, according to Reuters news agency.
He added that donors would only cautiously support Sudan until the government tried to resolve the Darfur crisis, which has displaced tens of thousands of people and threatened widespread starvation.
The AU has agreed to deploy up to 4,000 troops with a limited mandate to the western Sudanese province of Darfur, but so far, only a little more than a thousand have arrived.
The Sudanese minister for international cooperation, Yusuf Sulayman Takana, on Tuesday met with the Dutch minister of development cooperation, Agnes Van Ardenne, in Khartoum to discuss the development programmes to be carried out by his ministry over the coming period.
During their meeting, the Netherlands' minister announced her intention to extend about $129 million to the Sudan donors fund following the Oslo Donors Conference.
"However, for the full amount to be released, Van Ardenne noted that the situation in Darfur had to improve considerably as well," Esther Van Damme, press officer for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told IRIN on Thursday.
In November 2004, the UN appealed to donors for US $1.5 billion for an urgent programme to support humanitarian, protection, recovery and development activities in the conflict-ravaged country during 2005.
The work plan, presenting 304 projects to be implemented by 49 agencies and NGOs across Sudan, has been developed in consultation with the GoS and the rebel SPLM/A leadership, and draws on the priorities they identified to address the urgent needs in Sudan for the period 2004-2005.
The activities cover a multitude of sectors, including food aid, health, mine action, support for the protection, return and re-integration of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, rehabilitation of transport infrastructure, sanitation, disarmament, demobilisation and re-integration of former combatants.
It is expected that during 2005, between 640,000 and 1.2 million IDPs and refugees will return to their areas of origin, mainly to southern Sudan, where there are already 1.5 million IDPs and conflict affected people. The UN needs over $550 million for immediate recovery, development and humanitarian programmes in the southern part of the country.
"This amount is crucial to save numerous lives and to re-establish services in areas where these people used to live, in some cases as far back as 20 years ago," Dennis Johnson, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for southern Sudan, said during the launch of the appeal. "We need to create an environment that can sustain the return of hundreds of thousands of people to south Sudan."
The funding allocations of $1.5 billion include over $600 million for life saving and sustaining activities in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, where there are currently 2.2-million conflict affected persons, including 1.6-million IDPs.
The peace agreement, signed by the SPLM/A and the government on 9 January, officially ends the 21-year civil war in the south that left over 1.5 million people dead and displaced nearly four million. The deal includes provisions on power-sharing, some autonomy for the south and more equitable distribution of economic resources, including oil.
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