from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 30 May 2010
(New York/Khartoum, 30 May 2010): On the last day of his four-day visit to Sudan, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes returned to Khartoum after visiting Southern Sudan and the western region of Darfur. The aim of Mr. Holmes's fifth visit to Sudan since 2007 has been to assess the situation on the ground and to address critical concerns surrounding the humanitarian operation. With a 2010 funding appeal for US$ 1.9 billion, this operation remains by some way the largest in the world.

Mr. Holmes noted a number of factors that have led to a new humanitarian crisis in Southern Sudan, in particular food insecurity and rising malnutrition brought on by poor rains and crop failure, as well as higher food prices. Severe food insecurity affects as many as 1.5 million people, with another 1.8 million facing moderate food insecurity. Tribal violence this year has caused the displacement of around 90,000 people and an estimated 700 deaths. Continued attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army have added to insecurity, displacements and deaths.

"All this adds up to a very worrying situation against the background of high poverty and poor human development indicators in a number of areas, as well as the political uncertainties ahead of the 2011 referendum," Mr. Holmes said. Under the terms of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Southern Sudan will vote in January next year to decide the status of the region.

He pointed also to transport and logistical constraints on delivering assistance, which lie behind efforts to preposition essential stocks before the forthcoming rainy season. "We are making good progress, but the funding is still inadequate," he said. Of the requested $531 million for operations in Southern Sudan, only 26 percent has been received so far. In this regard, he welcomed the contribution of $35 million by the Government of Southern Sudan to address the problem of food insecurity.

On the situation in Darfur, Mr. Holmes stated that little had changed since his last visit to the region a year ago, shortly after the expulsion of 13 international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and dissolution of three national NGOs. While major gaps in response have been filled, quality and capacity are still below previous levels in some areas. The ability to address the needs of the population also remains hindered by bureaucratic impediments and insecurity, exemplified by the recent effects of fighting between the Government and rebel militias, inter-tribal conflict and events such as the unresolved abduction of an American NGO staff member. Access to conflict affected areas such as the Jebel Marra remains very difficult. Amid this uncertain scenario, the likelihood of mass returns of displaced residents remains slim.

"We desperately need to see a proper ceasefire in Darfur and a definitive political settlement, so we can move away from a focus on humanitarian aid and towards the recovery, reconstruction and development the region so badly requires," Mr. Holmes said. "In the meantime, we will continue to work as closely as we can with the Government to address the problems and to make sure as fully as we can that humanitarian needs are met."

For further information, please call: OCHA-Sudan: Samuel Hendricks +249 (0) 912 170 417, hendricks@un.org OCHA-New York: Stephanie Bunker, +1 347 244 2106, mobile +1 347 244 2106, bunker@un.org; Nicholas Reader +1 212 963 4961, mobile +1 646 752 3117, reader@un.org
OCHA-Geneva: Elisabeth Byrs,+41 22 917 2653, mobile, +41 79 473 4570, byrs@un.org.

OCHA press releases are available at http://ochaonline.un.org or www.reliefweb.int.

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