South Sudan

NPA and payment of satellite phones in South Sudan during the liberation struggle

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NPA has followed the people of South Sudan closely through years of bloody civil war and transition to peacetime and independence, and currently runs extensive relief and aid work in the country. A new book about NPA’s history in South Sudan, authored by Halle Jørn Hanssen, is about to be published.

In his new book the former Secretary General of NPA, Halle Jørn Hanssen, describes how he in the 90s approved that between 5 and 8 million of relief funds was spent to cover the late rebel leader John Garang’s satellite telephone.

“This would not have happened today”, says Liv Tørres, Secretary General of Norwegian People's Aid (NPA).

Much to be proud of

Tørres says that the NPA did a great job during those years and that both the organization and Hanssen has much to be proud of from that period.

“Halle Jørn Hansen's commitment has saved tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of lives. But we must remember that this is a long time ago and a lot has changed in both NPA and the humanitarian world since Hanssen left in 2001”.

Backed peace efforts

NPA supported rebel SPLM in the fight against the highly repressive and brutal regime in the north. “We must remember the time and situation Halle writes about was complex and dangerous. As the largest international organization in South Sudan at this time we saved many thousands of lives. But it is probably also things that we, looking back, maybe should have solved differently. That is, however, always easy to say in retrospect”, says Tørres. “Coverage of these phone bills was also important to plan the aid work and to probe the terrain for peace negotiations”, emphasizes Tørres.

“We are happy to contribute to facilitate peace processes also now, but we obviously don’t support armed groups with material”.

Norwegian People's Aid started its work in Southern Sudan in 1986 and is the international organizations that have worked the longest continuous time in South Sudan. The organization has a significant program portfolio, and currently works with support for civil society and rural development, relief and demining.