August 4, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — The African Union (AU) announced the signing of an agreement with Sudanese government and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) over the humanitarian access to the rebel held areas.
- Sudanese refugees walk along the border road after crossing from North Sudan carrying their possessions July 2, 2012 in Jaw, South Sudan (Getty)
The two parties accepted a tripartite initiative to provide humanitarian aid to the affected civilians in the areas controlled by the SPLM-N rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
But, Khartoum had refused a deal the tripartite team signed with the SPLM-N on 18 February 2012 based on its sovereign right to control the whole operation that the United Nations, African Union and Arab League proposed to conduct.
The African Union Peace and Security Council in a meeting held on Friday 3 August praised the agreement the mediation signed with Khartoum on the same day about the modalities for the delivery of humanitarian assistance for civilians in the SPLM-N areas.
On the other hand, on 4 August, the rebel group, despite its reservation over Khartoum’s insistence to carry out the humanitarian operation form within the Sudanese territory and under its control, signed a similar deal with the three facilitators.
The rebel groups, which agreed to a renewable monthly ceasefire, said it signed the agreement despite the fact that the "whole operation is dependent on the consent of the GaS on access" to rebel areas for humanitarian consideration.
"Our main consideration is to respond to the catastrophe and the crisis that is one year old now as a result of Khartoum denying access to the needy displaced persons," said Yasir Arman SPLM-N Secretary General and head of the negotiating team said in a statement released on Saturday.
Arman further urged international pressures on Khartoum to ensure its implementation.
The two-page agreement allows the tripartite team to assess the size and needs of the civilians in rebel controlled areas within two weeks.
Also, the food distribution will be carried out by " implementing partners" selected by the tripartite group and accepted by the rebels who commit themselves to ensure their safety.
Khartoum was refusing the access of aid groups to the SPLM-N areas saying the humanitarian aid will be used to feed the rebel fighters.
The UN agencies estimate that over two hundred thousands fled the war-torn areas in Blue Nile and South Kordofan to refugee camps in Ethiopia and South Sudan. Other hundreds of thousands people are displaced in the government held areas or other parties of the country.
The mediation plans now to resume political talks between the two parties next September.
The political track was suspended earlier this week as the mediation and Khartoum rejected a position paper submitted by the SPLM-N demanding to include other conflicts in western, northern and eastern Sudan in the process.
The AU mediation says the talks should be governed by the framework agreement signed on 28 June 2011.
Khartoum had long refused to accept this framework text because it allows the rebel group to keep its troops and establishes a political partnership with the government at the same time.