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Arab League proposes initiative to allow aid delivery into Blue Nile & S. Kordofan

February 13, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The Arab League revealed that it has put forward an initiative to address the humanitarian situation in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, which lie on the Sudan-South Sudan border.

Sudanese refugees gather in a makeshift shelter after being displaced by conflict in Southern Kordofan earlier this year. (UN Photo_Paul Banks)

Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) is battling rebels from the Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) since June 2011 in South Kordofan and September 2011 in Blue Nile.

The media office of the Arab League Secretary General said that the proposal is based on a number of principles, most notably the full respect for the sovereignty of Sudan, securing the entry of humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by conflict and facilitating the safe and voluntary return of displaced people.

The action plan outlines ways by which the amount of humanitarian need is estimated and the manner by which aid is delivered to affected areas.

Sources tell Sudan Tribune that the Arab League wants to decouple the humanitarian track from the political one and move towards transitioning from emergency relief stage to early recovery and development.

The scheme was reportedly agreed to in principle by the Sudanese government and received strong support from the African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN).

The United States called on Sudan’s neighbours and particularly African countries to press Khartoum to allow aid groups to enter rebel controlled areas in the two states. It warned that half a million people will face an emergency bordering on famine by March if international humanitarian organisations are not allowed into these areas.

There were reports confirmed later by Washington that the latter is considering moving unilaterally to deliver aid to these regions without Khartoum’s permission. But the Sudanese government strongly cautioned against such a move.

The violence has already forced about 417,000 people to flee their homes, more than 80,000 of them to South Sudan, the UN estimates. Locals have faced air raids and sporadic ground fighting, according to human rights groups and refugees.