In a press release issued on 27 April, the UNHCR announced that High Commissioner António Guterres wrapped up his mission to Sudan with a visit to Kassala State, in eastern Sudan, which hosts about 136,000 refugees from Eritrea and Ethiopia. The objective of the visit was for Mr. Guterres "to see for himself one of the most forgotten refugee situations in the world", the UNHCR said.
Addressing local authorities and government representatives in Kassala, Mr. Guterres stressed that, while the international community has focused on Darfur and South Sudan, not enough attention has been paid to the refugees in the East. He also emphasized that people often forget that Sudan has been very generous in hosting these refugees for the past 40 years.
Mr. Guterres also visited Wad Sherif and Kilo 26 refugee camps, respectively hosting 33,000 and 12,500 refugees. He expressed deep concern about the poor conditions in which the refugees live, without adequate water supplies, limited access to health services, poor sanitation and malnourishment, among other problems. He expressed UNHCR's commitment to do more to help the refugees and called upon the international community to fulfill its responsibilities.
WFP welcomes $55 million pledge from Government of southern Sudan
In a press release issued on 28 April, the UN World Food Programme welcomed a pledge from the Government of southern Sudan (GoSS) to contribute 55 million dollars to WFP's rebuilding projects in southern Sudan. These projects are helping to restore food independence for people in the region. The pledge, which consists of 41 million dollars donation to WFP's Road Building and Demining Programme and an additional 14 million dollars for refurbishing several airstrips in southern Sudan, was announced by southern Sudan's Minister of Roads and Transport, Mrs. Rebecca Garang Nyandeng, during her meeting with WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.
This is the second major humanitarian donation made to WFP by the southern Sudan government. Last year, the GoSS donated US$30 million to the roads project, which has rebuilt nearly 2,000 kilometres of roads and removed more than 200,000 unexploded ordnance in the region since 2004. A further 1,000 km of roads are scheduled to be rebuilt in 2007. The total cost of the roads project is US$183 million.
During her one-day visit to Juba, Ms Sheeran also met with GoSS President Salva Kiir Mayardit. She reiterated WFP's commitment to helping build the peace with programmes such as Food for Work, which will increase by 25 per cent this year, and School Feeding, which will triple to 450,000 students in the South. WFP will also provide three-month rations to an estimated 430,000 returnees.
Ms Sheeran was in Sudan on a three-day visit, as part of her first field trip as the new director of the world's largest humanitarian agency. While in Sudan, she held meetings with government officials and visited a camp for internally displaced people in Kutum, North Darfur.
On Saturday 28 April, Ms Sheeran continued her trip in Chad, where she was scheduled to meet with government officials regarding humanitarian challenges on the Chad-Sudan border.
Security and Humanitarian Developments in Darfur
On 27 April, three armed men shot and killed a man and injured three other people in Hamadiya IDP camp (Zalengei). The casualties reportedly include a six month old infant.
Security and Humanitarian Developments in southern Sudan and the Transitional Areas
On 27 April, the census center in Juba was destroyed in a fire. UNMIS assisted in extinguishing the fire. Reports claim that all records related to the census were destroyed. After initial investigation, police said that the fire was caused by an electrical fault, and they did not suspect that the incident was a criminal act.
On 27 April, former SPLA and SAF soldiers demanded unpaid salaries from the GoSS in Wau. About 100 protesters blocked the road to the airport and the UNMIS compound. The crowd stopped an IOM vehicle and assaulted the driver. The group demanded that a senior government official meet with them by noon, or else the vehicle would be torched. UNMIS managed to negotiate the release of the driver and vehicle before the deadline. Officials and a JIU Commander managed to disperse the crowd.
On 27 April, UNMIS in Juba facilitated a CPA awareness workshop in Maridi. The participants included Payam administrators, Buma administrators, traditional Chiefs, women and youth associations and the SPLA. The workshop discussed government structure, power sharing, the referendum and local governance. The workshop was received positively by the participants who emphasized the urgent need for CPA awareness among the population.