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Sudanese Rebels Appeal for US Aid

September 18, 2012

by Carol Van Dam Falk

Malik Agar, the Chairman of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), was in Washington D.C. last week leading a delegation meeting with U.S. officials over the urgent need for humanitarian access in Sudan's Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states.

Abdel Aziz Al Hilu, Deputy Chairman of SPLM-N and Yasir Arman, Secretary General of SPLM-N were among the other members of the delegation.

The conflict between Sudan and the Sudan Revolutionary Front, which includes the SPLM-N, began after Sudan's national elections in April, 2010, when President Omar al Bashir was returned to power.

A year ago in September, Sudanese forces clashed with the SPLM-N in Blue Nile state, seizing control of the state capital, Damazin, removing Malik Agar as the state's governor. Agar had been elected in 2010.

Agar said the suffering among the people is getting worse.

"The situation in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan in terms of human suffering is appalling. [We] tried to [have] humanitarian assistance delivered to these two areas," Agar said. "We entered into several agreements; the first one signed in February of this year, but the Khartoum government refused to sign it and dragged its feet. [Its] strategy is to use food as a weapon to break the will of the fighters there."

Agar denied Sudan's accusation that SPLM-N soldiers in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states would disrupt aid meant to reach the people most in need. Khartoum has long argued that food and other emergency aid is taken by rebel soldiers.

"That is what they said, but this is not the first time relief is being delivered," he said. The loyalists and the non-loyalists were doing it during the first war that lasted 21 years."

While Agar said the SPLM-N would not remove troops from the area, he is concerned about the plight of the people affected by the fighting. He said he is in Washington to ask for help on behalf of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) trying to deliver aid to people in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

Agar said U.S. officials with whom the delegation met, including Senator John McCain, (R-Az) and Ambassador Princeton Lyman, United States Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, were receptive to the delegation's call for more U.S. aid to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.

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