I am a British writer and currently Africa correspondent for the British Medical Journal. I am researching an article about prospects for peace and current conditions in Eastern Sudan. I read on Sudan Tribune that eastern Sudan activists are planning a media campaign and conference in Europe this month.
I hope you can provide me with more details as I am concerned that the situation on the Eastern front is virtually unknown in the outside world and none of the current negotiations on Darfur mention the east, despite the fact that the SPLA is currently pulling its forces out of the area in line with the CPA. It seems surprising that the CPA otherwise makes no provisions for the East at all.
551b Finchley Rd London NW3 7BJ UK
020 7433 1918
BMJ 2006;332:993 (29 April)
Bird flu adds to Sudanís woes as UN warns of risk to aid operations
London Peter Moszynski
As the Darfur crisis spilled over into Chad this month, a United Nationsí official warned that relief operations could collapse within weeks or months because of violence and intimidation, restrictions on aid staff, and lack of funding. Sudanese militias have reportedly been attacking a refugee camp, and Khartoum is accused of backing a rebel attack on Ndjamena, the capital of Chad. Meanwhile, news that bird flu had arrived in a country in such chaos prompted further concern.
Guido Sabatinelli, the World Health Organizationís representative in Sudan, told the BMJ, ďAs a result of the current humanitarian crisis in Darfur and the effect of over 20 years of civil war, the health situation in Sudan is facing many challenges. The confirmation of avian influenza in poultry in Sudan is an added concern to public health. The health sector has been chronically under-resourced for many years resulting in weak surveillance and fragile health systems.Ē
He also warned, ďThe constant movement of internally displaced people and returnees throughout the country further amplifies the risk of communicable disease and limits the effectiveness of outbreaks response.Ē
Jan Egeland, the UNís head of humanitarian affairs, cautioned the Sudanese government that donors were unlikely to continue funding an operation that consumed a third of the UNís humanitarian budget unless there was better cooperation. Earlier this month he had to cancel a scheduled trip to Khartoum, Darfur, and Chad, when his aeroplane was refused entry into Sudanese airspace.
He told the Security Council, which is currently debating a resolution on sanctions, that Darfur was currently ďfalling further into an abyssĒ and that government restrictions ďthreaten humanitarian operations in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan.Ē
According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sudan currently hosts a quarter of the worldís internally displaced people. The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that 3.5 million people currently need help in Darfur. More than 14000 relief workers are helping them, working for 84 non-governmental organisations and the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies as well as 13 UN agencies.
According to the office, this massive relief operation resulted in a ďdramatic reduction of morbidity and mortality . . . since 2004, and has effectively prevented large outbreaks of disease.Ē
But it added, ďIn addition to major funding shortfalls and a significant reduction in access due to rising insecurity, the humanitarian community has been facing an increasing level of government restrictions.Ē Several international and local agencies have recently been suspended.
Urging that the ďillegal closure and suspension of humanitarian organisationsĒ must be halted, Amnesty International warned that certain provisions in the newly promulgated Organisation of Humanitarian and Voluntary Work Act 2006 ďcontravene international standards on freedom of association and the Sudanese Interim National Constitution.Ē It called on Khartoum to ďabide by its repeated commitments to cease the obstruction of humanitarian aid.Ē