UK allocates £54 million more for humanitarian assistance and for elections in Sudan

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A =A354 million package of aid from the UK to help Sudan, along with a renewed call for support to the country's peace process on its fifth anniversary this week, was announced today by ministers Baroness Kinnock and Gareth Thomas.

Of the new funding, =A336 million will go into the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), which the UK was instrumental in setting up, and will be used by UN agencies and NGOs to provide emergency water and sanitation, healthcare, shelter and other essential services.

In addition to the CHF funding, the next =A310 million of the UK's commitment to the Southern Sudan Recovery Fund (SRF) will go towards helping promote security in the South.

The UK today also announced a further =A38m to support elections in Sudan, bringing our total contribution to elections to =A312.5m. Funding will focus on focused on education, preventing conflict and helping to ensure the elections run peacefully.

At a joint press briefing in London on Wednesday, January 6, Foreign Office Minister Baroness Kinnock and International Development Minister Gareth Thomas underlined UK support for the peace process.

Baroness Kinnock said: "Saturday 9 January will mark the fifth anniversary of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). This is a cause for celebration and for congratulations to the people of Sudan. The CPA ended Africa's longest-running civil war. It has been through many challenges remains intact and has prevented a return to major conflict. But now is a critical time.

"There is now three months until nationwide elections and one year until the referendum on self-determination for Southern Sudan. Sudan needs clear, visionary leadership to overcome the challenges ahead and realise a peaceful future for Sudan, both in the period up to the referendum and for the years after, regardless of the outcome.

"There has been encouraging progress in recent weeks. The UK will continue working with both parties to build on this."

International Development Minister Gareth Thomas said: "Peace in Sudan is crucial if the country is to develop and prosper.

"The people of Sudan have suffered under some of the worst humanitarian conditions in the world, with nine out of 10 people living in poverty. UK support has helped change millions of lives in Sudan, but we can only do so much, and I urge the Sudanese government to do all in its power to keep the peace, while respecting human rights."

Saturday, January 9 will mark the fifth anniversary of the CPA. The maintenance of the CPA for this period represents a significant achievement and continued efforts to work together towards peace and stability over the next and final year of the CPA are essential.

The UK continues to urge both the National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) to reach agreement on conduct of elections and a referendum, and to start work urgently on longer-term issues that will arise irrespective of the referendum outcome (such as oil revenue sharing."

Huge challenges remain in the country as many of Sudan's human development indicators, particularly in the south, are among the worst in the world.

In Southern Sudan, nine out of ten people live in poverty, and less than one in four can read. Fewer than one in ten families have access to sanitation, and the number of women who die during childbirth is one of the highest rates in the world. More than one in eight children die before their fifth birthday.

UK support is, however, making a difference. Last year alone nine million children received polio vaccinations, and UK backed programmes have ensured an extra 300,000 children in primary education and 800 new teachers. The UK's Department for International Development has also helped provide healthcare for more than 1.4 million people, and helped more than 450,000 people gain access to clean water and sanitation.

In recent years the Common Humanitarian Fund has provided safe water supply and sanitation facilities to some 75,000 people, emergency shelter to up to 200,000 people, healthcare for some 2,700 patients each month, emergency food aid for nearly half a million and school meals for 135,000 children. It has also provided over 100,000 farming families with assistance to grow their own food and vaccinated over a million animals.

Charities which have benefited from the Common Humanitarian Fund include NGOs such as Catholic Relief Services and CARE, and UN agencies such as UNICEF and WFP.

Notes to editors

DFID has committed =A350m to Sudan Recovery Fund (SRF). With the approval of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) the SRF has recently identified a $16 million package of interventions for some of the most insecure areas of Jonglei. These interventions include a labour intensive road-building programme, the establishment of a state-managed radio station, constructing offices for commissioners and policemen, and building court houses. But more needs to be done to promote security in the South. So the next =A310 million of our commitment will go to stabilisation planning in Lakes State.

The UK commitment to Sudan in total is currently over =A3200 million a year. This reflects both the DFID programme and the UK's contribution to peacekeeping missions in Sudan.