Sudan's North-South Peace Is Fragile, Aid Agencies Warn

Jan 08, 2007, 00:00 ET from International Rescue Committee

    KHARTOUM, Sudan, Jan. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Two years after the
 signing of a landmark peace agreement to end Sudan's 21-year North-South
 civil war, five international aid agencies today warned that greater
 international attention is needed to ensure the peace process does not
     The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed on 9 January 2005
 between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement
 (SPLM) formally ended one of Africa's longest and bloodiest conflicts, in
 which more than 2 million people are estimated to have died. However, while
 international attention focuses on the crisis in the western region of
 Darfur, implementation of the agreement has slipped heavily behind
 schedule, warned CARE, Christian Aid, the International Rescue Committee
 (IRC), Oxfam and the International Save the Children Alliance.
     "With everyone concentrating on Darfur, the CPA seems to be drifting
 off the international community's radar screen," said Patty Swahn, the
 International Rescue Committee's Regional Director for East and Horn of
 Africa. "The slow progress in implementing the agreement is extremely
 worrying; if there isn't active support for the peace process, there is a
 real risk of renewed fighting."
     The possibility of an upsurge in violence was dramatically signaled at
 the end of November when fighting broke out in the Southern town of Malakal
 between SPLM troops and forces aligned to the Government in Khartoum,
 causing more than 150 fatalities and over 400 injuries. Insecurity persists
 in many parts of South Sudan and there is still much work to be done on
 demobilizing the South's many armed groups.
     Another concern is the slow progress in addressing the status of Abyei
 and the transition areas of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan.
     "The international community needs to understand how fragile the
 situation is and to engage actively in supporting the process and holding
 the parties to account," said Gary McGurk, Assistant Country Director for
 CARE South Sudan.
     The agencies also urged donors and policymakers to pay closer attention
 to the implementation of the East Sudan Peace Agreement, which was signed
 in October 2006 between the Government of Sudan and the Eastern Sudan
 Front, ending a low-level insurgency that has simmered since the early
 1990s, dividing the state of Kassala in two.
     "The CPA and the peace agreements in Darfur and in the East cannot be
 treated as three completely separate processes; they are part of the same
 dynamic," said Hussein Halane, Program Director for Save the Children.
     Promoting post-conflict recovery and development is vital to
 stabilizing the volatile situation across the country, especially with
 hundreds of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people now
 returning, or planning to return, to the South. However, as donors
 transition to longer-term development aid, it is also essential that the
 immediate humanitarian needs of Sudan's many vulnerable populations
 continue to be addressed. After more than 20 years of war, people need to
 feel the "dividends" of peace in order to firmly break the cycle of
 conflict. With development aid commitments taking time to reach the
 intended beneficiaries, every effort must be made to prevent the emergence
 of a funding gap just when communities are expecting to see the material
 benefits of peace.
     The aid organizations make the following recommendations:
     * The international community must engage more actively in monitoring and
       supporting the implementation of the CPA and the East Sudan Peace
       Agreement, as well as promoting a peaceful settlement in Darfur.
     * Donors must ensure that ordinary Sudanese people benefit rapidly and
       tangibly from post-conflict aid, making certain that the needs of
       vulnerable communities in all parts of the country continue to be met as
       they transition from humanitarian to development funding and from
       bilateral to multilateral aid mechanisms.
     * The Government of National Unity and the Government of South Sudan need
       to protect their citizens from violence and to implement faithfully the
       peace agreements that they have signed.

SOURCE International Rescue Committee