UN renews request to access Sudan’s war zones

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January 9, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The United Nations has once again asked the Sudanese government to grant international aid groups access to rebels-controlled areas in the country’s war-hit states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

U.N. Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos (R) speaks during a joint news conference with Sudanese Social Welfare Minister Amira al-Fadel Mohamed (L) in Khartoum January 4, 2012. (Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah) Sudan already rejected the same request last week, saying that it welcomes support from the UN but will not allow foreign workers to conduct the delivery of aid, according to the country’s Social Welfare Minister Amira al-Fadel Mohamed.

The Sudanese minister made her statement following a meeting with the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos on Wednesday. She stressed that her country would only allow local citizens to deliver aid.

But the UN’s top humanitarian official on Monday appealed again to the Sudanese authorities to allow international agencies to access areas controlled by the rebels Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North in the two states.

According to Amos, food insecurity and malnutrition have reached "alarming" levels in areas controlled by the SPLM-N in the two states.

But this time it appears that the renewed UN request will at least be taken into consideration.

While inaugurating a workshop on Monday about humanitarian response, Sudan’s humanitarian commissioner, Suliman Abdul Rahman, said that the government had asked the UN official to present a written proposal on how humanitarian aid would be delivered to the affected population in rebels-controlled area.

The Sudanese official added that the government would then study the proposal and respond to it.

Khartoum has refused to allow aid agencies into rebels-controlled areas since its army started fighting SPLM-N rebels in South Kordofan as of June and in Blue Nile as of September last year.

The conflict in the two states has displaced about 417,000 people, more than 80,000 of them to neighboring South Sudan, according to UN figures.