Sudan: Press conference by Ms. Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
I came to the Sudan to see for myself the status of the humanitarian response, to strengthen our working relationships with the key stakeholders in Darfur and southern Sudan and seek assurance from authorities on their responsibility to protect and uphold the rights of the population.
Over the past five days I have travelled extensively throughout the country: from Juba, Yambi oand Ezo in south Sudan, to Agok and Abyei in the three protocol areas, to El Fasher and Nyala in Darfur.
I talked to beneficiaries of humanitarian assistance, including people forcibly displaced by violence and with families wanting to return to their places of origin and rebuild their lives. I have met with senior government officials in Khartoum and Juba and representatives of NGOs and United Nations organizations.
Humanitarian agencies have reported a worrying deterioration in the operating environment in recent months in the South, Abyei and in Darfur. Growing insecurity is a major concern and is limiting the freedom of movement of humanitarian workers and their ability to offer assistance to people in need.
I have asked for a renewed commitment from the authorities, in the South, in Darfur and at the federal level, to ensure that the delivery of humanitarian assistance is unhampered and free from any political, ethnic or religious consideration.
27 international aid workers and peacekeepers have been kidnapped since March 2009. Four are still being held captive. I welcome the Government's efforts to resolve kidnapping cases and call for perpetrators to be apprehended and brought to justice. Stopping impunity is the only way to address this worrying trend.
The importance of finding durable solutions for displaced populations was also raised during my discussions. I would like to stress that all people have the right to return home or settle in an alternative location of their choosing, but the conditions need to be appropriate and their safety and security must be guaranteed. Ensuring that returns take place in a free and principled manner is the responsibility of the Government. Humanitarian workers are ready to assist where there is clear humanitarian need, and where the government is not able to provide the required support.When displaced people do not want to return to their area of origin, we need to assist their integration into existing communities and support the development of sustainable livelihoods. This is all about putting the needs of the people first. There are clear principles that underlie humanitarian action and return processes that need to be adhered to.
People must want to return - so it must be voluntary. Their safety and security must be guaranteed and basic services must be provided. Ensuring the safety and security of its people is of course the primary responsibility of any government.
I hope that in coming months, our working relationship with the Government of Sudan, the Government of southern Sudan and state authorities, will be strengthened and yield a well coordinated provision of humanitarian assistance where and when it is needed. We must also work to provide durable solutions to help vulnerable population across the country rebuild their lives.
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