October 28, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) reiterated its demand for talks on the technical details with the Sudanese government before to conduct a polio vaccination campaign UN agencies intend to launch during the first week of November.
- Children sit in a cave shelter in Bram village in the Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan on 28 April 2012 (Photo: Reuters /Goran Tomasevic)
Earlier this month Sudan and the members of the tripartite humanitarian initiative - UN agencies: WHO and UNICEF, African Union and Arab League - agreed with Khartoum to carry out the immunisation campaign on 5 November . Also, the Sudanese army announced a two-week cessation of hostilities for this period.
Khartoum turned down a demand by the SPLM-N to discuss the duration of the humanitarian truce and the actors involved in the operation. The rebels reject the presence of aid workers from the Sudanese Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) suspecting it of being infiltrated by intelligence agent and proposed that the UNISFA transport the vaccines.
SPLM-N secretary-general and top negotiator, Yasir Arman, on Monday disclosed that the group’s leader Malik Agar, in a letter sent to the head of the African Union mediation Thabo Mbeki, renewed their commitment to the campaign and readiness for talks "on the two issues that are hanging for the polio campaign to start as scheduled".
"Mainly, a credible cessation of hostilities that the two parties are committed to during the duration of the vaccination campaign. Secondly, who is going to bring the vaccinations into the SPLM-N controlled areas", Arman further pointed out in a statement he emailed to Sudan Tribune.
He emphasized that if the cessation of hostilities is mediated by the African mediation it would be more reliable and push the civilians to trust it and come out from the caves with their children to vaccinate them.
He further reminded that the UN Security Council had called in a press statement released on 10 October on the two parties to "resolve the technical plans necessary" for the vaccination campaign.
The chief negotiator implicitly rejected any role to the tripartite mechanism in this campaign, stressing they suggested since last September to the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan to involve "the AUHIP and the Chair of IGAD, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, as they are the only one tasked by UNSC Resolution 2046 and the subsequent resolutions by the African Union to handle the humanitarian issues in Sudan".
Last year, in order to convince the Sudanese government to accept the distribution of humanitarian assistance in the rebel areas, the UN invited the Arab League and the African Union to send observers to monitor the food distribution. The measure aimed to dissipate Khartoum fears and to ensure that rebels would not benefit from the aid.
Sudan and SPLM signed a humanitarian agreement providing to allow humanitarian access to the rebel controlled areas on 4 August 2012 negotiated by the tripartite committee separately with the two parties but the two parties failed to implement it.