"We hope that these groups will be able to find a way to return to provide aid to people who are extremely vulnerable to famine, disease and death," ARC President Anthony Kozlowski said.
ARC has decided to continue operating in southern Sudan after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association (SRRA), the humanitarian arm of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM). The other groups withdrew after the SRRA insisted that non-governmental organizations sign the MOU, which sets out conditions for providing relief in SPLM-controlled areas, by March 1.
Kozlowski said the MOU was not a perfect document, but was one that ARC could live with. "It does not endanger our assets, it gives us the right to makes changes to our programs based on experience and spells out a fairly good system to resolve disputes," he said.
"Furthermore, it provides an escape clause allowing us to withdraw, if that became necessary, with 90 days notice in a planned way that will not endanger beneficiaries."
Southern Sudan has been plagued for decades by a civil war that has destroyed much of the region's social and economic infrastructure, taken an estimated two million lives, and uprooted or otherwise endangered more than four million Sudanese.
ARC provides aid to residents and displaced people in Kajo Keji County in southern Sudan. Its projects, with 191 staff members, focus on primary health care, hygiene, sanitation and training.
ARC is one of 24 NGOs that remain in the area. "We appeal to all the parties concerned to make it possible for the agencies that have withdrawn to go back," Kozlowski said. "Meanwhile, we will continue to give priority to assisting the people of southern Sudan who struggle for survival in very perilous conditions."
The American Refugee Committee (ARC) works for the survival, health, and well-being of refugees, displaced persons, and those at risk, and seeks to enable them to rebuild productive lives of dignity and purpose, striving always to respect the values of those served. ARC is an international nonprofit, non-sectarian organization providing multisectoral humanitarian assistance and training to more than one million people in Africa, Asia and Europe.
For more information, or to schedule an interview with Anthony Kozlowski, please call Suzanne Perry at 612-607-6481 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 1999 American Refugee Committee