Sudan: Cessation of hostilities critical to peace talks

SUDAN (January 22, 2003) - Five leading humanitarian organizations working in both southern and northern Sudan called upon the GOS, SPLM and international community to make substantial progress towards peace in the coming weeks, including maintaining and extending the current cessation of hostilities.
CARE International, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Oxfam/GB, Save the Children/UK and Tearfund called upon influential governments and the United Nations to encourage the Sudanese parties to work towards a comprehensive and workable peace deal and to respect the cessation of hostilities agreement, which remains in force until March 31, 2003. They also asked both sides to extend the cessation of hostilities further - until the end of the negotiating process.

"You can't make peace at the negotiating table and make war in the bush," says Kees Groenendijk of IRC. "A suspension of military activities is crucial to building confidence on both sides so that a lasting peace can work. The GOS and the SPLM must make every effort to contain military action throughout the country at this critical time."

The humanitarian agencies also called upon all donors and international actors to speak with one voice in urging both sides toward a peaceful settlement of Sudan's two-decade long civil war. They noted that governments represented by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Norway, and Egypt, as well as representatives of the European Union and the Arab League, are key to the process of peace and should maintain their support throughout the negotiations. Donors in particular must be prepared to develop well-coordinated plans for reconstruction assistance for all parts of Sudan following a peace deal.

An estimated two million people have died in nearly two decades of civil war in Sudan, and four million have been displaced.

Media Contacts:

Khartoum: Kees Groenendijk, International Rescue Committtee, Mobile: (249) 123 90 331
Nairobi: Wendy Fenton, Save the Children Fund/UKSave the Children Fund/UK, Mobile: (254) (0) 733/628454
Johannesburg: Lynn Heinisch, CARE International -- Press Officer,, Tel: (27-11) 807-5258/9