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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Sudan: NGO Report

Sudan: NGO Report
Date distributed (ymd): 981127
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: East Africa
Issue Areas: +political/rights+ +economy/development+ +security/peace+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains an article from the Sudan Monthly Report from Nairobi, and excerpts from a new report by three international aid agencies involved in the Sudan, calling for new international efforts to put peace higher on the agenda. Additional recent information is available on-line from Sudan Infonet, e-mail:; web:

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Sudan Monthly Report
November 1998
Sudanese Catholic Information Office (SCIO)
P.O.Box 21102, Nairobi, Kenya;
Tel.: 00254 - 2 - 562247; fax.: 00254 - 2 - 566668;
e-mail: SCIO@MAF.Org;

November 15, 1998

2. Agencies seek new Ways to end crisis

As the year 1998 comes to a close, fears have already been expressed about another famine of Biblical proportions in Sudan next year. In fact, those from the ground reckon that next year's food deficit in the war-ravaged country could surpass this year's hitherto unprecedented levels. So how is next year's situation likely to be?

To put you in the picture; consider this: This year's famine affected an estimated 2.6 million people, prompting the greatest United Nation relief operation in human history Though the exact figures of those who failed to survive the ravages of the devastating hunger are yet to come out, they are in hundreds of thousands, adding to the misery of a people who have known little if any peace in their lives.

Next year's situation is likely to be worse because whereas the world did the most logical thing in the circumstances -- feeding the hungry to safe as many lives as possible -- nothing substantial has been done to address the principle cause of the famine -- Sudanese civil war. Now in its 15th year, the current phase of the protracted conflict has ensured that Sudanese spend the least time engaging in activities that can keep hunger at bay. Rather than spend time cultivating, all the able bodied men and women spend time in the fields with guns protecting their territory and their people. Others busy themselves seeking refugee in more secure parts of the world. It is estimated that the past 15 years have seen more than half the population of southern Sudan flee their homes. The young ones are not spending time in schools acquiring skills for the future challenges, while the leaders are busy strategising on the next war plan.

It was therefore gratifying to learn that some four large relief organisations have opted to advocate for a more practical approach to tackling the civil war. Aid alone, they say, would not solve the disasters that have cost 1.5 million lives. Representatives of CARE International, Oxfam, Doctors without Borders and Save the Children, all of whom have projects in Sudan, met Security Council members at Sweden's UN mission to press their campaign. Specifically, the four agencies called on the UN to "generate a forceful and positive lobby for peace" that would include shuttle diplomacy, followed by summit level meetings and a full-time special representative for UN secretary-general Kofi Annan in the area.

"Humanitarian assistance alone, in a political vacuum, will not solve Sudan's problems nor stop the next famine.. What we need is the political will to end the war," said Guy Tousignant, secretary general of Care International. Such an appeal could not have come at a more appropriate time. One can only hope that other agencies seize the earliest opportunity to help metamorphosise this noble dream into a reality.

Charles Omondi

Sudan: Who has the will for peace?

A paper by Save the Children Fund, CARE International and Oxfam GB

[Excerpts: for full report see the Oxfam web site (]

22 October 1998


1. 1998 draws to a close with no end in sight to Sudan's conflict after more than thirty years of fighting. ... Thousands have died in 1998 alone. An estimated 4 million Sudanese are displaced, either internally or as refugees. The humanitarian toll of the war is appalling and not confined to Sudan. ...


2. A bleak end to 1998 will only be slightly mitigated by the agreement of the Sudan Government, on 12 October, and the SPLA, on 8 October, to extend their cease-fire in Bahr el Ghazal until the middle of January 1999. This is certainly welcome if it can be broadened throughout southern Sudan and beyond. But if the cease-fire can not, it may only allow the warring parties to withdraw forces from Bahr el Ghazal to intensify violence in other regions. ...

Peace Process

3. As the war and the humanitarian crisis continue, there is still precious little momentum for serious negotiations. Both Government and SPLA seem to have settled into a brutal routine of accepting limited cease-fires which 'buy time' for both sides. They do not necessarily represent a commitment to peace by any party. The war rages on, perpetuating the conditions for famine. It is marked by infrequent meetings of the warring parties, most recently in August in Addis Ababa, under the auspices of the regional organisation, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). ...

International Attention

4. Internationally, there is probably less interest in Sudan now than there was in the middle of 1998. Much of the political attention has waned as the television cameras which covered the famine when it was 'new' have departed.

5. The prime responsibility for the suffering of the people of Sudan is shared by the Government, the SPLA, and Sudan's various militia, all of whom pursue a war which can not be won. A few profit from the conflict while many thousands of civilians have died in 1998 alone and millions more are denied their human rights. Sudan seems a level enough killing field to allow this to go on for many more years unless something is done to persuade both sides that their interests lie in a meaningful peace process instead.

6. What can that 'something' be? This paper does not argue for a precise solution. It does not rest on the comforting assumption that, given greater political will, there will be an easy way to peace for Sudan. But it does argue that without greater will there is no chance of finding that way. What is needed now is a gear change in the activity of a number of governments, in the region and beyond, to turn the IGAD process into effective negotiations. The regional dimension to the conflict cannot be understated. An effective peace process will have to de-escalate the situation at every level and across the region.

This could mean:

  • Shuttle diplomacy and preparatory work building up agreement during the intervals between the IGAD meetings.
  • An urgent agreement required to broaden the cease-fire to include all areas and all warring parties - and to continue to strengthen it throughout 1999.
  • Through such preparatory work, building up confidence before moving to address the underlying political issues.
  • When shuttle diplomacy has progressed far enough, the profile of the IGAD process and the expectation of agreement could be raised by a summit-level meeting.
  • The UN adopting a political role, including a full-time Special Representative of the Secretary General.

Human Rights and Humanitarian Action

(i) Human Impact

7. The war in Sudan has already claimed more than 1.5 million lives. Sudan's warring factions use civilians as human shields and as strategic military resources. Civilians' right to access to humanitarian relief is controlled rather than respected, and the human rights of children, women and men are violated systematically.

8. After years of conflict, less than half the population of southern Sudan remain in their place of origin. At least 4 million people are estimated to have fled their homes. ...

9. Often forgotten, 2 million displaced people live in the squatter areas of Khartoum - 70% of whom have fled the war. In Khartoum, they suffer forced removals and demolitions by the Government, and in a recent survey of three squatter sites, the inhabitants there have to depend for water on one borehole for every 13,000 people.

10. Oxfam is urgently working with the UN World Food Programme and others to assess the numbers of people who will continue to be at risk next year. At this stage it seems likely that of the 2.6 million people assessed as being at risk in the middle of 1998, a substantial majority will continue to be at risk in 1999.

11. Poverty, malnutrition, displacement, poor sanitary conditions, and lack of access to clean water combine to increase people's vulnerability to diseases such as leishmaniasis (kala azar), tuberculosis, cholera, trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) and guinea worm.

12. As with health services, there has been an almost absolute collapse in education systems in much of Sudan. Estimates of adult illiteracy are 90% for women and 80% for men in the south, and a still deplorable 44% in the north. It is likely that there is a 'lost generation' of Sudanese who have received little or no education.

13. The humanitarian impact of the Sudanese conflict is not confined to Sudan nor to the Sudanese. Sudan's neighbours are both clearly implicated in the war and suffer from its proximity. Ugandan opposition groups such as the Lord's Resistance Army operate from bases near the border and have inflicted well-documented abuses on both Sudanese and Ugandan civilians. In addition, Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda have all hosted large numbers of Sudanese refugees.

(ii) Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law

14. The April 1998 report of the Human Rights Rapporteur stated that the human rights situation had deteriorated significantly in the last year. Any peace process must now be built on respect for human rights if it is to have any meaning for civilians in Sudan. Any war criminals of Sudan, as of every country, must be brought to justice.


  • The UN must take robust action to negotiate full access of the war-affected populations to humanitarian relief. The current restrictions, especially in the northern sector and Nuba mountains are intolerable.
  • The UN should ensure that the Human Rights Rapporteur has strong political support to monitor abuses throughout the country regarding human rights and international humanitarian law. If effective, this would keep pressure on all actors. The Rapporteur should have power to recommend appropriate action to the UN, OAU, key donors and Partners of IGAD in response to violations.
  • Lack of freedom of movement of people is disrupting trade and migration patterns and leading to a breakdown in the fabric of Sudanese society. Action is needed to ensure that all Sudanese are able to move freely in order to encourage normal patterns of trade and livelihoods.
  • Major support must be given to uphold the Geneva Conventions which oblige the parties to the conflict to respect minimum humanitarian standards. The UN and Partners of IGAD must make it known that the new International Criminal Court or similar tribunal will be used.
  • It is unacceptable that some governments, non-state actors and individuals continue to support the war effort of the Government of Sudan and the SPLA. The provision of resources, including weapons, to the region intensifies conflicts in and around Sudan and increases the impact of conflict on civilians. In this context the Security Council should agree and enforce a UN embargo on the export of arms and ammunition to Sudan. ...

(iii) Humanitarian Action

15. Northern Bahr el Ghazal and western Upper Nile remain insecure. There are substantial numbers of people who have been displaced many times and who do not have the means of keeping themselves alive over the coming months. ...


  • The combination of famine and conflict in Sudan requires donors to provide support to WFP/OLS operations until at least the harvest of September 1999. Aid will need to be adjusted on the basis of assessments.
  • The humanitarian response should be based on the principle of impartiality. Donors and agencies should press for greater coherence between northern and southern sectors.
  • Donors, the UN and OLS agencies need to maintain a high level of funds for humanitarian assistance and its transport. As soon as the fighting subsides, there should be a major investment in road transport and infrastructure which must be protected from military abuse.
  • The UN Secretary General should appoint a full-time Special Representative to inter alia strengthen the leadership of the UN aid effort, including effectively representing all parts of OLS, as well as improving coordination of all aid efforts.
  • All relief agencies must be accountable for the end use of their aid and take all feasible measures to maximize its benefit to those in danger, and minimize any negative side-effects. The major donors and UN should fund agencies on the basis of their commitment to the principles of the International Red Cross Movement and NGO Code of Conduct and/or the OLS Humanitarian Ground Rules. ...
  • Throughout the years of conflict, civilians have been systematically stripped of their assets. Donors and agencies must be encouraged to look at asset restoration which is critical to restoring people's coping mechanisms and reducing future vulnerability.

The Peace Process

(i) The Process

18. There are fundamental disagreements which go to the core of the Sudanese state: disputed autonomy for the south; the transitional government; the territorial control of oil rich regions; and the separation of religion and state. Eventually, agreement will have to be reached on these issues if any peace is to endure. However, they must be tackled in a way which brings resolution on urgent issues and allows further negotiation for issues which will benefit from longer negotiation and consultation with populations. The sequencing of negotiations may be vitally important.

There are real dangers. A negotiated settlement could freeze injustice by consolidating the power of authoritarian and undemocratic forces. Peace must be just and inclusive if it is to be enduring.


  • The UN should take a significantly more proactive political role, which would require inter alia a full-time Special Representative of the Secretary General. UN and international pressure should seek to reinforce and complement the IGAD process.
  • The Partners of IGAD must meet urgently, in 1998. This must lead to an effective engagement with the warring parties in the coming weeks, to broaden the cease-fire beyond Bahr el Ghazal. The United Nations Member States and the United Nations Security Council should exert pressure on the warring parties to extend the cease-fire to cover all areas of Sudan and include all parties to the conflict. ...
  • The partners of IGAD must give greater support to the preparatory work of individuals trusted by both the Government and SPLA seeking to build up agreements between the IGAD meetings. This should firstly tackle the issues where agreement might be possible in the relatively near future, building up confidence before tackling the most contentious issues. When this preparatory work has progressed far enough, the profile of the IGAD process and the expectation of agreement could be raised by a summit-level meeting.
  • The IGAD forum brings together only the SPLA and Government of Sudan. The two parties should be encouraged to adopt a policy of inclusion so that broader political and military interests are represented in the process. The eventual goal of the process should be more than a resolution to Sudan's 'north-south' war. It should seek to resolve the entire crisis in Sudan including governance in all areas.
  • The IGAD process should find a way to include local communities, refugees and displaced in peacebuilding. Through these groups, traditional mechanisms for reconciliation could be explored in order to rebuild links between communities which is crucial for building sustainable peace. Donors should support representative inter-communal peace initiatives which attempt to rebuild links between people and communities.

(ii) Post-Settlement Investing in Peace

20. A lasting peace will depend on Sudanese leaders and the population believing that there is more to be gained from peace than war. The international community needs to develop a framework for post-settlement reconstruction which is both fast and flexible, and focused on reducing poverty through restoring livelihoods. ...


  • The Partners of IGAD should develop coherent and co-ordinated policies which, following a settlement, will facilitate Sudan's warring factions in building a stake in peace. These should include substantial post-settlement aid for reconstruction; future mechanisms for debt relief; normalization of trade, investment and diplomatic relations. Currently there is no western official aid going to development in Sudan. Any offers of assistance must be calibrated with tangible progress on stability and security, respect for human rights, and demonstrated commitments to poverty reduction.
  • Post-settlement reconstruction should promote stability and security and ensure an equitable distribution of resources between and within regions. It should help restore the asset base and free trade to ensure sustainable development.
  • Any settlement in Sudan will be threatened by the presence of large quantities of light weapons and experienced fighters. A 'Security First' approach would provide substantial support for demobilization and disarmament as well as border controls to prevent smuggling of weapons out to neighbouring unstable regions.
  • Donors are called upon to support nascent civil society in Sudan and for capacity building initiatives to reduce poverty and increase access to basic rights. Such support will mean more than funds. It will also require pressure on the warring parties to remove constraints on civil society. ...

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.

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