The Spokesperson for the Secretary-General announced on 22 June that the UN Secretary-General will attend the high-level meeting of the International Contact Group on Sudan to be convened by the French Government in Paris on 25 June 2007. The Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, and Margareta Wahlström, Assistant Secretary-General for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, will also attend the high-level meeting.
The Secretary-General's Spokesperson also announced on 23 June that Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro will represent the Secretary-General at the African Union Summit to be held in Accra, Ghana, in early July.
Environmental degradation is among the root causes of conflict in Sudan, UNEP Report says
According to an assessment by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released on 22 June 2007, Sudan is unlikely to see a lasting peace unless widespread and rapidly increasing environmental degradation is urgently addressed. The assessment and the related news release are posted on UNEP website: www.unep.org/documents
Among the most serious concerns are land degradation and desertification, the report said. It noted that deserts have spread southwards by an average of 100 km over the past four decades.
The report noted a clearly marked decline in rainfall, especially in Darfur, adding that the scale of climate change as recorded in northern Darfur is almost unprecedented. Those impacts are closely linked to conflict in the region, as desertification has added significantly to the stress on traditional agricultural and pastoral livelihoods, the report says. With declining rainfall, crop yields are expected to fall by as much as 70 per cent in the most vulnerable areas.
AU Peace and Security Council authorizes deployment of the hybrid operation, extends AMIS mandate for six months
In a Communiqué issued on 22 June 2007, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU PSC) announced its decision to authorize the deployment, as soon as possible and for an initial period to be determined after appropriate consultations between the African Union and the United Nations, of the African Union/United Nations hybrid operation. The deployment of the hybrid operation was authorized on the basis of the proposals contained in the report of the Chairperson of the Commission and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, as explained and clarified during the technical consultations of 11 and 12 June 2007 with the Government of the Sudan, including on the mission tasks, structure, command and control, resource requirements and funding sources, force and personnel generation, and mission support, as well as on the cooperation required from the Government of the Sudan;
The AU PSC requested the United Nations Security Council to urgently authorize the deployment of the AU-UN hybrid operation, to be funded through United Nations assessed contributions and managed according to the United Nations procedures, rules and regulations. The AU PSC decided, in the meantime, to extend the mandate of AMIS for an additional period not exceeding six (6) months, until 31 December 2007, in the expectation that efforts will be expedited for the early deployment of the AU-UN hybrid operation and that the African Union partners will continue to provide the financial and logistical support required to enable AMIS effectively implement its mandate.
The AU PSC underlined the need to accelerate the implementation of the United Nations light and heavy support packages to AMIS and the need for urgent support to facilitate the deployment of at least two additional battalions in accordance with the concept of operation for AMIS approved at its meeting held in New York on 20 September 2006.
The AU PSC urged all the Sudanese parties to fully comply with the ceasefire and to honor their commitments as contained in the various agreements they have signed and reiterated the urgent need to reenergize the political process. In this, the AU PSC reiterated its full support to the joint African Union-United Nations efforts, through their respective Special Envoys, Salim Ahmed Salim and Jan Eliasson.
Southern Sudan and the Transitional Areas
First GoSS Health Assembly held in Juba
Over 300 delegates from the GoSS Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance, Ministries of Health from all ten Southern States, members of the Diaspora, international agencies, civil society and private corporations gathered in Juba from 18 -21 June 2007, to participate in the first Government of Southern Sudan Health Assembly "Towards a decentralized health care system in Southern Sudan".
The purpose of the Assembly was to: define the roles and responsibilities at the central, state and county levels of the health care systems of the MoH including the roles of the United Nations, NGOs and the private sector, clarify resource allocation and funding possibilities, and strengthen coordination and communications mechanism
Delegates from GoSS, State MoH, UN Agencies, NGOs, and other health partners, presented an overview of the current situation in each state as well as the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders.
The final results of the Sudan Household Survey presented to the Assembly depicted many poor areas of the level of health in Southern. The worst indication of the level of health in Southern Sudan was highlighted by the highest Maternal Mortality Rate in the world (2030 per 100,000 births). Other key areas included the low level of health, low rates of total immunization coverage, high rates of malnutrition and the low level of HIV/AIDs awareness among many others.
Key recommendations towards decentralization of the health systems unanimously adopted by the Assembly were focused around seven key thematic topics, namely: coordination and communication, human resources development, infrastructure development, public-private partnerships in health, health management Information systems, health financing, and water and sanitation.
The preliminary results of nutrition survey recently conducted by an INGO in Khorflus County, northern Jonglei State, indicate that malnutrition rates exceeded the emergency threshold, with a global malnutrition rate of 32.6% and a severe malnutrition rate of 6.6%.
The emergency obstetric and neonatal care training supported by UNFPA in Lakes, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Upper Nile States continues. Fifty participants are attending the training. UNFPA provided essential reproductive health kits to the main referral hospitals in the three States and is assisting in setting up maternity units and antenatal clinics.
WFP distributed 590 Metric Tons of food commodities to over 35,000 beneficiaries in Southern Sudan and is planning to further distribute 1,142 MT of food to approximately 86,000.
On 20 June, a drunken soldier from the Sudanese Armed Forces threw a hand grenade close to the market in Melut, Upper Nile State, and injured one person.
In South Darfur, OCHA called an emergency meeting on 20 June, to discuss the continued influx of new IDPs into Al Salam camp. On 19 June, eight additional trucks arrived at the camp bringing the total population to 28,000. Services are being expanded to accommodate the increase in population. The Humanitarian Affairs Commission has agreed to get authorization from the Wali to open Sereif camp for 5,000 new arrivals. WFP will continue the two weeks food rations' distribution until the verification exercise of all new arrivals is completed.
In West Darfur, a one-day inter-agency assessment was carried out on 20 June, in Seraf Jidad where the situation is critical as people are reported to be unable to go outside the village due to harassment by nomads, in addition to the presence of Chadian opposition in the area who have settled their families in Seraf Jidad. The inhabitants of Seraf Jidad will not have access to their farms this year. The assessment mission findings are that a punctual food aid distribution would help the community make it through the hunger season and that the population was needed security and protection to access their farms.
In North Darfur, an exchange of fire occurred on 23 June between elements of SLA/Minni Minawi and Government Forces in the vicinity of the main market in El-Fasher. No casualty was reported. The incident was reportedly triggered by the refusal of one SLA/M vehicle to stop at a GoS routine check point. The GoS Forces at the check point shot the tire of the vehicle.
In South Darfur, three unknown armed men stopped an INGO vehicle convoy on 20 June near Abgaragel (approx. 28 Km South of Nyala) and took one car with its driver at gunpoint. The car and the driver were released the same day following negotiations with the hijackers by another team of the INGO.
On 22 June, a rebel movement commander, identified by the media as the second in command of SLM/A-Peace Wing faction, was killed by two armed men in Dereig IDP camp. During the shooting, a man who was with the rebel commander was also killed. Reports also indicate that a woman was killed and her 12 year daughter was injured by stray bullets from the shooting.
* All UNMIS News Bulletins are available at www.unmis.org