February 23, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – A survey conducted by government and international groups in Sudan’s war-battered state of South Kordofan has shown “good” levels of food security and “normal” humanitarian conditions, an official said on Monday as UN agencies withheld comments on the findings.
Sudan’s Humanitarian commissioner Suliman Abdel Rahman on Thursday said that the survey had covered 43 villages in the state which has been the scene of military confrontations between government forces and rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) since early June 2011.
According to the Sudanese official, the survey concluded that the food situation in the state is “good.” He explained that the results indicated that the level of malnutrition among children below five year-old is standing at 4.4 percent which, according to him, is less than the UN’s 15 percent rate of emergency.
The country’s top humanitarian official went on to say that the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, to which the conflict spread in September, is “under control and within normal levels.”
However, he acknowledged that the survey showed deterioration of the agricultural season due to erratic rains and the security situation.
Sudan announced on 19 February that it accepted to include international organizations in an operation to assess the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan, few days after the UN Security Council issued a statement voicing concern over the situation in the two states, saying it could reach “emergency levels if not immediately addressed”
Khartoum has been facing down an international campaign to allow international aid agencies to access South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Sudan has barred international aid groups from the area and says it will not allow them to participate in the distribution of aid, citing security concerns.
The announced findings of the survey contrast sharply with the estimates of the UN whose top humanitarian official, Valerie Amos, said in January that food insecurity and malnutrition had reached “alarming levels” in rebels-controlled areas.
Meanwhile, UN agencies have expressed reservations over the survey and complained of government restrictions.
The head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Khartoum, Mark Cutts, said on Thursday that they cannot comment on the survey because they did not see the results.
The UN official said they had encountered difficulties in working with the government because its policy does not allow UN representatives to work on the ground in the areas of those affected.
Cutts also said that the government put limitations on the number of staff allowed to stay in South Kordofan, adding that it will be difficult for them to assess if their teams are not allowed to reach affected areas.
Similarly, the head of UNICEF in Sudan said that their teams could not access some areas while a representative for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said they are in no position to comment after the authorities cancelled their planned trip to Kadugli despite the fact that they had obtained all relevant permissions.
The UN estimates that the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile has displaced approximately 417,000 people, more than 80,000 of them to neighboring South Sudan which Khartoum accuses of backing the rebels.