Sudan

Sudan: UN gains access to Southern Blue Nile

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NAIROBI, 12 March (IRIN) - The United Nations has been given a green light to bring humanitarian aid into the Southern Blue Nile region of eastern Sudan.
Bernt Aasen, the UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for southern Sudan, told IRIN that as of Tuesday, it was agreed that 72-hours notice would be given to the government of Sudan regarding all UN flights going into Southern Blue Nile, which was standard procedure.

A spokeswoman for the World Food Programme (WFP), Laura Melo, confirmed to IRIN that clearance had been obtained from the Sudanese government on Tuesday, and that WFP expected to begin delivering food aid on Friday.

Representatives from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) would also go into Southern Blue Nile at the weekend to start repairing damaged hand pumps and to assess wells, said Aasen. This would "help ease the critical situation in terms of water supply", he said, stressing that the priorities were food and water.

In January, the UN negotiated separate bilateral agreements with the government of Sudan and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), to enable it to provide humanitarian aid in Southern Blue Nile which falls outside the remit of the Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) umbrella.

Further talks between Sudanese government and Tom Eric Vraalsen, the UN Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs for Sudan, took place last week in the Sudanese capital Khartoum to negotiate the implementation details of the agreement.

[ENDS]

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