1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Sudan, the largest country in Africa and one with the most precarious humanitarian situations, is experiencing a long-term civil war since 1983 between the Government of Sudan (GoS) and opposing armed factions controlling many areas in the South. The human cost of this conflict is extreme: over 2 million deaths, about 4 million of Internally Displaced People (IDPs), as well as a substantial number of refugees. The chronic lack of basic services has made large numbers of Sudanese highly vulnerable and, therefore, dependent on emergency relief aid. The situation is further worsened by insecurity, access denials and recurrent natural disasters such as floods and droughts.
Intense diplomatic efforts are being carried out by the international community in support of the peace process. Although significant agreements have been reached this year, there are still a number of outstanding issues on the negotiating table before a comprehensive peace agreement is achieved.
Whilst the peace process justifies a certain degree of optimism, the humanitarian situation in large parts of Sudan remains precarious and will probably not drastically improve in the short and medium term.
The main objective of this Global Plan is to provide assistance to Sudan to save lives among the most vulnerable, needy populations. Additionally, ECHO support aims to stabilise conditions of people and communities with severely strained coping mechanisms and, whenever possible, contribute to a gradual process of recovery by enhancing of self-reliance. ECHO will continue covering the whole territory in a neutral and independent approach, in accordance to needs whilst respecting internationally recognised humanitarian principles.
ECHO's strategy for 2004 seeks, to a possible extent, returning to "core mandate" activities and includes four specific objectives. The first objective aims at reducing excess mortality and morbidity through an integrated sectoral focus (health, nutrition, water and sanitation, food security). The second one aims at improving the humanitarian and operational environment through country-wide operations including co-ordination, protection, security, transport, etc. The third objective intends to enhance the capacity to respond to and mitigate man-made and natural disasters through Emergency Preparedness and Response. Lastly, the fourth foresees maintaining a technical assistance capacity in the field.
Cross-cutting issues will be supported at two levels: by mainstreaming them into individual projects and by including them in the main components of the strategy. This Global Plan has been improved in order to respond to a number of recommendations made by an external evaluation of ECHO's activities in Sudan carried out in 2003.
ECHO will continue its commitment to advocating for humanitarian access and, its efforts to liaise with other Commission services and donors in order to perform complementary interventions.
The present Global Plan proposes interventions in Sudan for a total value of 20 million Euro. The duration of the Decision should be of 18 months, starting from 1st January 2004. The Plan includes the necessary flexibility in order to ensure appropriate and prompt response to changing circumstances in 2004.
2. CONTEXT AND SITUATION
2.1. General Context
The civil war: Sudan has known only one fragile decade of peace (1972-1983) since the longest running civil war in Africa started in 1955. The latest period of war, between the GoS that controls the Arabic-Islamic Northern part of the country and some towns in the South and the opposing armed factions that control most of the multiethnic Christian/Animist areas in the South, has continued unabated since 1983(1). The conflict is driven by a combination of territorial, economic, ethnic and religious interests. The two main southern opposing armed factions, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the Sudan Popular Democratic Front (SPDF), merged in 2002. The panorama of the war-ravaged South is completed by an endless number of militias that easily change side in the conflict.
The GoS and the SPLM/A have been engaged in a peace process over the last two years. The process started with a partial cease-fire agreement in the Nuba Mountains from January 2002 as a consequence of the USA and Swiss mediations. This ceasefire was considered by the international community to be a test case for a future comprehensive cease-fire or a peace agreement.
Perseverance of the IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) and international observers (USA, the UK, Italy and Norway) led to a framework agreement between the GoS and the SPLM/A on July 2002 in Machakos (Kenya).
The Machakos protocol marked significant progress towards a comprehensive peace deal with agreement on some of the key issues. Thus, it was agreed that the signature of the potential peace agreement would be followed by an interim period of six and a half years after which there would be a referendum for self determination of the South. Later, on October 2002, both parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) establishing a comprehensive cease-fire while negotiations continued.
Cyclical stalemates, outbreaks of hostilities and achievements have followed one after another the numerous rounds of peace talks.
Conflicts within the conflict: Sudan, the largest country in Africa, presents in addition to the civil war ethnic clashes between different factions, uncontrolled militias, banditry and the presence of dangerous armed foreign groups in some areas such as the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).
While the peace process was smoothly developing, new insurgent groups such as the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) appeared in marginalized regions of the North. Moreover, new conflict fronts were opened and in October 2002 the conflict widened to Kassala and Darfur States.
The human cost of the conflict: All fighting parties have been accused at some point of atrocities and human rights violations. The human cost of this conflict is extreme. It has led to the loss of up to 2 million Sudanese lives through violence and starvation, more than four million of IDPs, considered to be the largest displacement in the world, as well as a substantial number of refugees. The constant flow of IDPs creates basic needs in both IDPs themselves and the host population. Ninety-two percent of the whole population currently lives below the poverty line and there is a chronic lack of basic services such as healthcare, safe water and education. Furthermore, natural disasters such as droughts and floods hit extensive areas of the country regularly.
The situation is worsened by insecurity, access denials, difficult terrain and seasonal rains that imply that large areas of Sudan are periodically inaccessible to humanitarian agencies.
Sudan and the European Union: EC formal assistance and most European Union (EU) bilateral development co-operation were stopped in Sudan in March 1990, due to concerns about lack of respect for human rights and democracy, and to the civil conflict. In November 1999, the EU and the Sudan engaged in a formal Political Dialogue, aimed at addressing those concerns.
Throughout the suspension, humanitarian assistance to Sudan has been maintained with ECHO intervening in Sudan since 1993 (ca. 200 M€ disbursed)(2). And, from 2000, the Commission's approach evolved towards a more comprehensive programme combining available short- and medium-term support (i.e. budgetary lines on food security, NGO co-funding, human rights, Humanitarian Plus and ECHO) with the participation of other EC services.
(1) The terms "North" and "South" used in the present report do not always correspond with the strict geographical division North/South of Sudan but refer to GoS-controlled areas ("North") and opposition-controlled areas ("South"). The use of these terms and other labels and boundaries does not imply acceptance or endorsement by the European Commission of any political stand, but simply reflects the current operational context in which ECHO and other humanitarian actors operate.
(2) Despite the above-mentioned suspension, the EU (Member States plus Commission) remained in 2002 the second largest donor in Sudan after the USA.