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Sudan denies accepting humanitarian access from abroad

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A man waits to receive food provided by the WFP during a visit by a EU delegation, at an IDP camp in Azaza, east of Ad Damazin, Blue Nile state, October 21, 2015. (Photo Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)
December 28, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - A senior Sudanese official on Wednesday has denied Khartoum’s acceptance to deliver some of the humanitarian aid to the rebel-held areas in Blue Nile State through Ethiopia.

After a series of talks in Addis Ababa between 9 to 14 August, the Sudanese government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) failed to sign a humanitarian access agreement.

SPLM-N demands to bring 20 percent of the humanitarian assistance to the affected areas directly from Ethiopia. The Sudanese delegation rejected the demand insisting all the aid should come via the government controlled areas.

On Tuesday, the dissident leading figure of the National Umma Party (NUP) Mubarak al-Fadil al-Mahdi disclosed that the Sudanese government accepted that 20 percent of the humanitarian aid passes through Ethiopia.

“U.S. Special Envoy, Donald Booth has successfully got the government acceptance of the SPLM-N demand to transport 20% of the humanitarian assistance through Asosa by the USAID,” said al-Fadil before to stress that this step represents “a significant concession” from the government, and paves the way for the signing of the humanitarian cessation of hostilities.

Booth was in Khartoum last month where he held talks with the Sudanese officials, but none of the parties announced the government’s acceptance of this step or the resumption of the talks.

However, Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Ahmed Mohamed Adam on Wednesday told Sudan Tribune that the government “didn’t change its stance against the direct delivery of assistance from abroad to the Two Areas”.

“We stick to our refusal for the cross-border assistance … this principled position hasn’t changed … and we wouldn’t allow humanitarian relief access without passing through an internal inspection,” he added.

Adam pointed that Sudan doesn’t reject humanitarian aid delivery from abroad, saying they continue to receive relief from various countries and foreign aid groups.

“The crux of the controversy lies in the direct delivery of external aid to locations outside the Sudanese government control because this is inconsistent with the sovereignty, national laws, and the United Nations’ principles of aid distribution,” he said.

It is noteworthy that the SPLM-N on Wednesday has denied Khartoum’s acceptance to deliver some of the humanitarian aid through Ethiopia and described al-Fadil statements as “inaccurate”.

South Kordofan and neighbouring Blue Nile states, also known as the “Two Areas” have been the scene of violent conflict between the SPLM-N and Sudanese army since 2011.

(ST)

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