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UN agencies declare their support for lifting Sudan’s sanctions

South Sudanese refugees in White Nile State receive humanitarian assistance on 27 February 2017 (SUNA photo)
July 10, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The United Nations agencies in Sudan have praised the government for improving humanitarian access and voiced their support for the lift of sanctions stressing that such a "constructive engagement" paves the way for more progress on the pending issues.

The statement of the UN agencies working on development, emergency, recovery and transition activities comes 48 hours before the announcement of a decision by President Donald Trump over the revocation or maintenance of economic embargo on Sudan.

The improvement of humanitarian access to the conflict-affected areas is one of five matters Sudan pledged to allow in a deal reached with the U.S. administration last year before the permanent lift of economic sanctions in July 2017.

"The United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in Sudan acknowledges that there has been a marked improvement in humanitarian access over the past six months, since Executive Order 13761 was signed on 13 January 2017, as a result of improved engagement between the Government of Sudan and humanitarian actors.

The UNCT pointed to directives issued by the government in December 2016 to facilitate the humanitarian access saying the UN agencies and aid groups reached inaccessible areas in Darfur region particularly the mountainous Jebel Marra area.

Also, the UN humanitarian bodies underlined that now they reach the government controlled areas in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states but the humanitarian access to the rebel-controlled areas in the two states remains a "challenge".

The government and the SPLM-N since more than a year have declared a unilateral cessation of hostilities but they failed to reach a humanitarian deal. Washington made some proposals to break the deadlock but the parties still at odds because the rebels demand a direct safe humanitarian corridor from the neighbouring Ethiopia to the SPLM-N areas in the Blue Nile.

The UN agencies further mentioned Sudan’s cooperation to deliver international humanitarian aid to the displaced persons in the South Sudan where a civil war has devastated the young nation despite the regional efforts to end the three-and-a-half-year-old conflict.

"While the UNCT recognises that regulatory improvements can take time to fully materialise on the ground and that some issues remain to be addressed, the past months have clearly shown that constructive engagement is the best way to maintain the progress already made, as well as to collectively resolve pending issues," said the statement.

"The UNCT looks forward to the decision that will shortly be taken on the sanctions, and is committed to continuing its engagement in order to further improve humanitarian access," it further said.

The Sudanese foreign ministry welcomed the statement by the UN agencies in favour of the permanent repeal of economic sanctions on Sudan

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses its satisfaction with the facts and evidence highlighted in the statement, which emphasised the close cooperation between Sudan and the international community in humanitarian issues at the regional and international levels," further said the statement.

In Washington, the Founding Director of the Enough Project, John Prendergast, issued a statement on Monday reiterating his call for the administration of President Trump to delay the permanent lift of sanctions on Sudan.

The Sudanese regime "continues to obstruct humanitarian access while more than a million people urgently need food and life-saving aid and continues its relentless attacks on religious freedoms including demolition of churches and denial of freedom of worship," he said.