Darfur and other areas of the north
Throughout April, the humanitarian context remained a challenge in Darfur and the rest of Sudan, including implementation of the Joint Communiqué for Darfur, signed last month.
In November 2006 it was agreed that a joint AU-UN force would be deployed to Darfur in three stages: a light support package; a heavy support package; and an African Union-UN hybrid force. On 16 April, the Government of Sudan accepted the UN heavy support package for the AU force.
Throughout the month, humanitarian staff were targets on the road, at work, and in their homes - 22 humanitarian staff were abducted during hijacking incidents and two temporarily detained by government authorities. Five physical assaults and two incidents of physical threats on NGO staff were reported. Security guards at humanitarian compounds were assaulted in five different incidents. Sixteen humanitarian vehicles were hijacked - twice as many as in March - with four failed attempts. Seven humanitarian convoys were ambushed and/or looted.
Travel outside of the state capital of Kassala is difficult for UN and NGOs alike. Three UN missions were turned back due to alleged lack of travel permits - documents not required under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Some NGOs have even found travel to Kassala town difficult.
UNMIS is still prohibited from traveling outside Abyei by both the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). This has been the case since 28 February.
As of 21 April, over 26,000 internally displaced people from Khartoum and other Northern States have been assisted in returning to Southern Sudan and the 'Three Areas' of South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei within the joint returns plan of the UN, the Government of National Unity and the Government of Southern Sudan.
Southern Sudan The situation in Juba remains stable. However, militia to the east of Juba, violent criminals inside Juba, and the presence of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) to the south of Juba remain a threat to humanitarian staff and operations. UN staff movement to the east and south of Juba is only allowed with armed escort.
After a five month hiatus, the LRA Peace talks resumed in Juba on 26 April. UNICEF continues its role in advocating for and ensuring the rights and protection of children associated with the LRA.
Areas affected by the presence of LRA members remained tense with continuous reports of LRA movement around Lasu, Morobo and Yambio-Maridi and in areas within proximity to the Uganda-Sudan, DRC-Sudan borders.
All roads and locations in Western Equatoria were reassessed by UN security and were cleared for less restricted movement, with the exception of Rikwangba, which still requires UN staff to travel with an armed escort.