CARE Urges the SPLM in Southern Sudan to Reopen Negotiations on Memorandum of Understanding

Aid group warns that life-saving humanitarian services for more than 1 million Sudanese are at risk
CONTACT: Allen Clinton, 404-681-4579, ext. 206

ATLANTA (March 1, 2000) -- CARE and several other humanitarian agencies have been told to leave southern Sudan by the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) and its humanitarian wing, the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association (SRRA), following a breakdown in negotiations over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The SRRA had issued a statement to all non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in territory that they control: sign a non-negotiable Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by March 1, 2000 or face expulsion from SPLM-held areas in southern Sudan. CARE and more than 10 other international NGOs have determined that they cannot sign the MOU under current conditions.

"We deeply regret that we, and other agencies, have been compelled to suspend our programs in southern Sudan. It is a terrible blow for the thousands of Sudanese people who are assisted by CARE's programs," CARE USA's President and CEO, Peter D. Bell, said today in Atlanta. "However, we cannot sign an agreement which fails to recognize that humanitarian principles must be the overriding criteria governing our programs. We earnestly hope that this situation may be resolved through talks about the importance of such principles, and that we can resume our work in southern Sudan."

CARE has been operating large-scale health, agriculture and emergency programs on both sides of the conflict in Sudan. Its work in northern Sudan, where it has an office in Khartoum, will continue. CARE and other agencies have been involved in a program of advocacy towards a "just peace" in Sudan so that the civilian victims of the internal conflict can start to rebuild their lives after two decades of violence.

CARE programs in southern Sudan: Western Equatoria: 100,000 ( # of South Sudanese assisted by CARE)

In Tambura County CARE has worked with communities to improve basic health care, treated and prevented Sleeping Sickness, improved education, helped farmers grow more and better food and marketed seeds and food to organizations working in famine-prone areas of Sudan.

Jonglei: 120,000 ( # of South Sudanese assisted by CARE)

In Bor County CARE has helped farmers grow more and better food, distributed seeds and tools, and encouraged open markets for food and trade through improved infrastructure and marketing.

Bahr el Ghaza: ...24,000 ( # of South Sudanese assisted by CARE)

In Kuajiena Payam CARE has helped farmers grow more and better food, improved access to markets through infrastructure improvement and helped improve local food storage systems.