Welthungerhilfe: Situation in southern Sudan also chaotic

Bonn/Khartoum, 27.04.2007. Following the decision of the German Bundestag to extend the Bundeswehr's assignment in southern Sudan as part of the United Nations' Mission in Sudan (Unmis), Deutsche Welthungerhilfe (German Agro Action) points out that conditions in southern Sudan continue to be chaotic.

"The situation is by no means as dramatic as it is in the war-torn Darfur in western Sudan," says Johan van der Kamp, Welthungerhilfe's regional coordinator in Sudan. "But even since the peace treaty was signed for southern Sudan, the military and criminal gangs continue to dominate the South, and weapons are everywhere."

According to van der Kamp, the work of relief organisations is very difficult under such conditions. "There is still a great deal of mistrust. When we rebuild schools in the villages, for example, only workers from this particular village are accepted. People assume there are enemies in every neighbouring village," reports van der Kamp.

People are also traumatised by the year-long civil war, something that is reflected in their aggressive behaviour. "Even the most minor understanding often leads to an escalation of the situation. People quickly resort to weapons. There are frequent deaths."

Unmis has helped bring about more peace, says van der Kamp. "More assertive action is being taken." Nevertheless, criticism that soldiers stay mainly in camps, show too little presence and are not sufficiently vigorous in their actions is justifiable. It is important that a civilian police force is created as quickly as possible so that the situation can normalise.

Deutsche Welthungerhilfe has been active in the Sudan since 1998, mainly in Darfur und in the South. In northern Darfur, it supplies 485,000 people with food. In southern Sudan, the relief organisation has started reconstruction work. This includes building schools and food security projects in the fields of agriculture and fishing.

Johan van der Kamp is available for interviews on request.


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