March 26, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese government on Sunday said it would open a new humanitarian corridor to deliver food assistance to the needy population in South Sudan.
Famine was recently declared in Mayendit, a village in South Sudan’s Unity state, the latest crisis in the country’s three-year civil war. About 100 000 people are said to be at risk, and aid groups are pleading for access. At least 5 million people or more than 40% of the nation’s population need urgent assistance, aid agencies say.
In July 2014, Juba and Khartoum signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to open a humanitarian corridor to deliver food assistance to vulnerable South Sudanese through the River Nile or by road. Last January, the agreement was extended for a six month period.
In a press release extended to Sudan Tribune, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary Abdel-Ghani al-Nai’m said Khartoum agreed to open a new corridor to deliver food and humanitarian assistance to South Sudan.
According to the press release, al-Nai’m Sunday has discussed with the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires in Khartoum Steven Koutsis humanitarian situation developments in South Sudan besides ways to coordinate and cooperate efforts between the two sides to cope with its consequences.
Al-Nai’m stressed Sudan’s principled position which was declared by president Omer al-Bashir regarding the humanitarian situation in South Sudan, pointing to coordination with the various states and international organisations to deliver assistance via the Sudanese border.
Last Week, two U.S. ships carrying 47,000 tonnes of sorghum the war victims in Sudan and South Sudan had docked at Port Sudan. 20,000 tonnes of the shipments will be transported to South Sudan through Sudan territory.
The Sudanese diplomat said his government is in constant contacts with a number of donor countries, saying the latter’s expressed desire to provide humanitarian and food assistance to South Sudan via Sudan.
“Sudan will spare no effort to assist its brothers in Southern Sudan until peace and stability are achieved there,” he said
According to the press release, the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires has praised the efforts of the Sudanese government, pointing to the need to promote coordination and contacts between the two countries in the face of those humanitarian situations.
UN WELCOMES SUDAN’S DECISION
Meanwhile, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Marta Ruedas, Sunday has welcomed Sudan’s decision to open the new humanitarian corridor to deliver assistance to South Sudan.
“By opening this cross-border corridor, the Government of Sudan is showing its commitment to the people of South Sudan and further strengthening cooperation with the international community to pull South Sudan back from a widening famine that could affect another 1 million people,” said Ruedas in a statement Sunday.
“This decision also comes at a critical time just before South Sudan’s rainy season, which starts in May and usually renders these roads impassable” she added.
According to the statement, food aid will be delivered by the “UN World Food Programme (WFP) from El Obeid in central Sudan to Bentiu, a town in Unity State, South Sudan, where 100,000 people are enduring famine amid a deepening humanitarian crisis across the country”.
It pointed out “the humanitarian corridor will not only allow for the timely delivery of the food aid but will also help reduce reliance on air operations, which cost six to seven times as much as moving food by river and road”.
At least 7,5 million people across South Sudan – almost two-thirds of the population – need humanitarian assistance. Sudan is also currently hosting over 350,000 South Sudanese refugees, who have arrived since the conflict erupted in December 2013.