Sudan : Commission conditions approval of 11 million Euro humanitarian aid on guarantee of access to rebel-held areas

IP/00/292
Brussels, 23 March 2000 - The European Commission has approved the 2000 Global Plan for Sudan which earmarks 11 million Euro for humanitarian aid in Sudan over the next nine months. However, the projects destined for rebel-held areas in the south of the country can only be carried out once the conditions for delivery of humanitarian assistance as required by international humanitarian principles are fulfilled. This aid is being channelled, via the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO), to non-governmental agencies and UN agencies.

The 17-year war in Sudan has cost over 1.5 million lives and led to the near-total collapse of all structures in the south, as well as to a large number of internally displaced persons throughout the country. The main aims of this Global Plan are to reduce mortality rates among the most vulnerable sections of the population and to halt depletion of the vital necessities for survival in a war-weakened population. Priority sectors are therefore: primary and secondary healthcare, food security and water/sanitation projects. Logistics and security structures run by United Nations agencies on behalf of Operation Lifeline Sudan will also get support.

The Commission decided on March 1 to suspend funding for humanitarian operations in areas controlled by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/SPLA), following the expulsion by the SPLA of non-governmental organisations that had refused to sign an SPLA-sponsored Memorandum of Understanding. The Commission, Member States and NGOs concerned decided that the terms of the Memorandum would severely restrict operations on the ground and set a dangerous precedent. In a declaration of the Member States of the European Union and the Commission, grave concern was expressed at the conditions imposed by the SPLM/SRRA on NGO's working in Southern Sudan. The EU has urged the SPLM/SRRA to resume negotiations with the objective of creating conditions that will allow NGO's to carry out humanitarian operations unhindered and in accordance with international humanitarian law

If, however, the Commission and its implementing partners are able to make progress in a way that enables NGOs to resume implementing assistance according to humanitarian principles, this decision could be reconsidered during the nine-month life of this plan.