1 April 2011 - A delegation of African Union (AU) experts arrived in the Southern Sudanese capital of Juba for a weeklong assessment of the region's post-conflict needs.
Speaking to the press at Juba International Airport, AU team leader Dr. Siphamandla Zondi said the mission was prompted by an AU ministerial committee decision to systematically assess Sudan's reconstruction and development (PCRD) needs.
"We are looking at all the challenges facing the Sudan," said Dr. Zondi. "We are looking at issues in the south and the north and are particularly interested in issues along the border both north and the south."
Before arriving in Southern Sudan, the delegation visited South Kordofan and Blue Nile states as well as the Nuba Mountains in the north. In the south, the delegation will visit several state capitals, including Bor, Aweil, Malakal, Wau, Bentiu, and Yambio.
"We are being assisted by the United Nations Mission in Sudan and African Union to identify those areas that will generate the information we need in order to formulate a systematic assessment of what the critical needs on the ground are," the AU team leader said.
With less than 100 days to the independence of Southern Sudan, the visit by the AU experts has come at a critical time. The new state is currently grappling with issues like insecurity related to rebel militia groups in the Greater Upper Nile region and attacks by rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army in Western Equatoria State.
"After our assessment, the technical and ministerial committee will recommend to the AU, international community and international development partners on what critical steps could be undertaken to make significant progress (in) post-conflict reconstruction in Sudan," Dr. Zondi said.