September 20, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese government has declined a proposal made by the United Nations to hold direct talks with the rebels in Blue Nile and South Kordofan over a polio vaccination campaign for children under five years.
- children wait for polio vaccinations
The Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) agreed in principle to the vaccination campaign but still they discussing the conditions under which the operation can be conducted.
Earlier this month, the SPLM-N dropped its demand to bring the vaccine directly to the rebel controlled areas directly from outside the country, namely Ethiopia and Kenya and accepted bringing it from Khartoum.
Following this move, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Mr. Ali Al-Zaatari, invited the two parties to hold direct talks to discuss a timeframe and modalities for a temporary cessation of hostilities to allow the vaccination campaign to go ahead safely.
But the Sudanese government said that it will only agree to indirect talks with the rebel movement.
"The Government clarified that it is ready to discuss modalities for a cessation of hostilities for the vaccination campaign but that this will need to be done through indirect rather than direct talks between the Government and the SPLM-N", said OCHA in its weekly bulletin released on Friday.
OCHA-Sudan further disclosed that the government further demanded that "all logistical operations (transportation and movement of teams) would have to be done by land", refusing a proposal made by the UN agencies to carry out the operations by air.
The UN agency noted that if the vaccination campaign goes ahead in October, this will be the first cross-line access into SPLM-N areas from within Sudan since 2011 which is when the conflict broke out between the two sides.
The proposed vaccination campaign has previously stalled on a number of occasions, amid disagreements over who should oversee the operation.
Last July, the SPLM-N proposed involving the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) as part of the vaccination campaign.