October 6, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) reiterated its demand for direct talks with the Sudanese government over the conduct of a polio vaccination campaign for children under five years in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
- A SPLM-N fighter stands near Gos village in the rebel-held territory of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, May 1, 2012. (Reuters)
Since last September, Khartoum declined to meet the SPLM-N rebels to discuss preparations related to this campaign particularly a cessation of hostilities needed before to reach 147,000 children in South Kordofan and 7000 children in Blue Nile. The Sudanese government said a deal can be reached through indirect talks brokered by the tripartite mechanism.
On 3 october, Suleiman Abdel Rahman Suleiman, head of the government’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), said they agreed with the UN, African Union and Arab League to carry out the operation on 5 November. He also said the army would finalise the timetable of the cessation of hostilities early next week.
"since last month we told the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator Ali Al-Za’atari, that direct talks are needed to discuss issues of the (vaccination) campaign, and to agree on a cessation of hostilities during all the time required by the vaccination", a SPLM-N official told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
The SPLM-N official who preferred to speak under the cover of anonymity further said the duration of the cessation of hostilities should cover the vaccination campaign and the time needed to bring and to return the children who are living in mountainous areas with their families to avoid air and ground attacks carried out by the Sudanese army .
He also stressed that such talks should be held under the auspices of the African Union mediation and Ethiopia which is the chair of the IGAD, in line with the UN resolution 2046 (2012).
The United Nations since last month said the SPLM-N accepted to bring the vaccine from Khartoum and abandoned their previous demand to bring it directly from Ethiopia and Kenya.
However the rebel official said they however propose that UNISFA should bring the vaccine to the SPLM-N areas in the two states.
Reports from the Blue Nile and South Kordofan say civilians continue to flee their villages as result of the continued military confrontation between the two parties or bombardment by the Sudanese warplanes.
A Sudanese aid group said 1,436 internally displaced people moved from Gambarda and Doglog in Blue Nile to Kalatu Shamall in Kurmuk following clashes between the army and rebel fighters.
Also, OCHA said some 300 people fled Wigo and Madum areas in Bau locality, about 35km southwest of Ed Damazine town following recent clashes there.
On the other hand, SPLM-N spokesperson Arnu Ngutulu Lodi in a statement released on Sunday said that a Sudanese army Mig jet fighter bombed Ardeba village, in Rashad County of South Kordofan last Thursday.
Lodi who did not mention if they clashed with the Sudanese troops further said the Imam of the village’s mosque, Salih Al-Haj Hassan was killed during the air strike which caused huge "material destructions" in the area.