Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Sudan dismisses US warning of looming humanitarian crisis and famine

Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman

On Tuesday, Sudan's ambassador to the UN unashamedly denied there was a mounting humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The remarks made by Daffa- Alla Elhag Ali Osman were in response to a letter issued by Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, in which she outlined her "grave concern about the worsening humanitarian crisis". Ambassador Osman claimed that the situation in the two southern states was "normal".

In the letter, Rice alleged that Khartoum was blocking both the United Nations and non-governmental organisations from accessing large areas of both states, preventing much needed aid from reaching its inhabitents. She termed the humanitarian crisis as "unconscionable and unacceptable," She furthered "conflict has affected more than 500,000 people, and if there is not a substantial new inflow of aid by March of this year, the situation in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile will reach Stage 4 of an emergency, which is one step short of full scale famine."

Completely disregarding the facts, the Sudanese ambassador claimed all was normal in the region except for pockets held by rebels. He blatently fudged the truth and claimed Khartoum was fullly co-operating with the United Nations, despite the fact that in recent weeks the Sudanese governmet has refused to act on calls by top UN officials to allow large scale humanitarian access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Osman also accussed those who called for greater humanitarian access of "wanting to feed the rebels"

The UN estimates that approximately 400,000 people have fled South Kordofan since fighting broke out in June 2011; many experts state this figure to be extremely conservative however. An estimate by the SPLM/A-N last week put the figure of refugees within South Kordofan and Blue Nile at to 700,000. A further 35,000 refugees have fled South Kordofan for Unity State, in South Sudan. Their situation is desperate as they are constantly subject to aerial bombardment as well as the insecurity that comes from fleeing their homes. With another half a million people at risk due the growing humanitarian situation, their position is becoming untenable. Tensions are rising also due to ongoing conflicts in neighbouting, newly independent South Sudan and the constant sparring going on between Sudan and South Sudan.

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