August 28, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have signed a new headquarters agreement, said the international humanitarian organisation in a statement released on Thursday.
- ICRC trucks arrive carrying food, seeds and farming tools to be distributed to families in and around Jebel Marra (Photo: ICRC)
The signed document which “sets out its legal and diplomatic status in Sudan”, replaces an old agreement dating from 1984.
In February this year the Sudanese authorities suspended the activities of the international group, asking to review the country agreement and to comply with Sudanese regulations for humanitarian organisations.
This headquarters deal is separate from the other issue as Khartoum says the ICRC has to fulfil certain administrative humanitarian regulations, in particular one that would make it mandatory to work through a local partner.
Regarding the second matter, the statement said the neutral international group is still discussing with the government the resumption of its humanitarian activities in Sudan.
“Negotiations have been constructive in recent weeks, and the signing of a new country agreement is a positive and essential step towards resuming our humanitarian work in Sudan,” said Jean-Christophe Sandoz, who heads the ICRC delegation in Sudan.
“We hope to conclude our dialogue with the authorities soon,” he added.
As an international organisation mandated by the international community, including Sudan, it plays a unique role in helping victims of armed conflict and other violence, with the ICRC arguing that its independence and neutrality are essential to fulfil its mission.
The Red Cross in the past years reached civilians in the rebel controlled areas and mediated the release of foreigners and Sudanese nationals including members of the army. The group says If it become associated with one or the other parties to the conflict, it will not be able to carry out its humanitarian activities and accomplish such sensitive activities.
“The revised agreement sets forth the ICRC’s legal and diplomatic status in the country and continues to recognize our organization’s mandate, which is to assist and protect victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence,” Sandoz.
Last year, the ICRC provided humanitarian aid to about 1.5 million Sudanese, particularly in Darfur where the group has worked since 2003.