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Part III Coordination Activities in the Field

Integrated Regional Information Newworks (IRIN)
Middle East
  Americas and the Caribbean  



The year began with the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signing the long-awaited Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on 9 January, bringing to an end Africa’s longest civil war. This paved the way for the formation of the Government of National Unity (GoNU) and the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS). Mere weeks after his July 9 swearing-in as First Vice President, John Garang, the leader of the SPLM, tragically died in a helicopter crash.

In spite of fears that Garang’s death would derail the peace process, the implementation of the CPA progressed in 2005, albeit slowly in some areas, and as many as 500,000 people returned to areas in the South, mostly spontaneously and with minimal support.While some were inspired to move by the newly signed peace, others returned due to forced relocations of IDPs in and around Khartoum. An almost complete lack of basic services in the areas of return and the increased pressure on host communities were critical humanitarian concerns in the South, one of the poorest and least developed areas in the world.

At the same time, the conflict in Darfur continued unabated, with its horrific impact on the civilian population. Throughout the year, the massive humanitarian operation in Darfur continued to reach about three million people, including some 1.8 million IDPs. Contrary to urging and expectation, the parties to the conflict, who were trying to negotiate a peace deal in Abuja, failed to reach an agreement by the end of the year. Instead, as the talks dragged on, significant deterioration in security conditions on the ground during the last quarter of the year endangered the significant humanitarian gains made in late 2004 and into 2005.

Key objectives

  • Strengthen field-based coordination for humanitarian and recovery efforts in all priority areas of Sudan
  • Help strengthen the response capacity of the humanitarian community through joint assessments, evaluation, monitoring and capacity building, as well as improved analysis and reporting
  • Ensure full and unimpeded access to populations in need throughout Sudan
  • Mobilise resources for humanitarian assistance through the 2005 Work Plan and a clear funding strategy
  • Help ensure the implementation of protection mechanisms


Confronted with widespread new and ongoing humanitarian needs and concerns, OCHA scaled up its presence in areas throughout Sudan in 2005. In the South, OCHA was among the first international organisations to establish its main office in Rumbek, and later in Juba. New offices were also set up in Eastern Sudan, Abyei and Kosti. By September, humanitarian operations across all areas of Southern Sudan were unified under the Southern Sudan operation, coordinated by the Deputy RC/HC. In Darfur, OCHA set up new satellite offices in under-serviced areas as NGOs established operations.

In 2005, OCHA was to the fore in advocating for a geographic expansion of humanitarian assistance, mobilising UN Agencies and NGOs to establish operations where critical needs were not being met, particularly in parts of the South and the East. In Darfur, the massive humanitarian response, begun in late 2003 and dramatically expanded in 2004, continued throughout 2005. The coordinated efforts of humanitarian actors helped to maintain a relatively stable humanitarian situation, with no large-scale
outbreaks of disease, and improvements in malnutrition and mortality rates. OCHA negotiated and ensured safe access for humanitarian assistance through constant coordination and interaction with the parties and armed groups, as well as key partners, including the African Union, UNMIS, UN Agencies and NGOs.

In Southern Sudan, OCHA expanded its presence during the year to areas where populations were highly vulnerable, and where OCHA was often one of very few humanitarian organisations. This was done in an attempt to ensure greater NGO and UN Agency presence, to initiate assessments, and offer stronger situation analysis. This targeted expansion was conducted with a view to handing over coordination responsibilities to the newly established RC’s Office following its deployment to the field, particularly in areas where an early transition to recovery and development is feasible. However, continued insecurity (sometimes increasing, as in the Equatoria regions) has delayed hopes for transition and resulted in the suspension of refugee returns into other parts.

OCHA further strengthened and consolidated the coordination of humanitarian assistance. In Khartoum, Juba and Rumbek, it set up coordination mechanisms on returns, protection, information and advocacy. OCHA worked closely with the Protection, Returns and Public Information units within UNMIS as they were being established in Khartoum and Juba, providing them with essential support.

OCHA led the way in advocating for increased attention to Khartoum IDP camps, mobilizing protection, humanitarian response, media attention and donor support.The office also supported the Return and Reintegration Unit and the Protection Unit of UNMIS with strong field-based coordination and information in areas in South Sudan and Darfur where the mission had no capacity, or where it was very limited. OCHA established mechanisms to strengthen monitoring and tracking of returning IDPs, introduced activities supporting spontaneous returns, including the training of more than 200 monitors and enumerators to track returns, and to monitor and report on protection violations and emergency needs along the main return routes. An initial returns plan was put in place with OCHA guidance and participation.

In 2005, OCHA took over the Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit (EP&R) previously managed by UNICEF. This strengthened its ability to support joint assessments and response to emergencies. Funding received towards the end of 2005 as part of the Emergency Response Fund (ERF) greatly enhanced the capacity of agencies to respond to emergencies in a timely fashion.

OCHA was integral to contingency planning for the East and for possible regional unrest with Chad. Led by the Deputy Humanitarian Coordinators, response plans for potential humanitarian crises were developed through joint regional country team and sectoral meetings.

The office took the lead in developing a capacity building programme for its government counterpart in the South, the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SRRC), and setting up joint offices of SRRC and the North Sudan counterpart, the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) in the three Transitional Areas. This programme included provision of offices, equipment, stipends and operating expenses until the end of 2005 for the headquarters, each of the 10 state offices in Southern Sudan and the three Transitional Areas.

OCHA organised and facilitated the first and subsequent joint HAC/SRRC meetings. It facilitated joint missions throughout Southern Sudan and the three Transitional Areas, supporting the setting up of new offices and facilitating the handover of offices to the SRRC and formation of joint offices.

OCHA helped mobilise resources through the 2005 Work Plan for the Sudan, with 56 percent (US$ 1.1 billion) of the assistance requirements provided by donors.

By the end of 2005, there were more than 12,000 humanitarian aid workers, 80 NGOs and 11 UN Agencies operating in Darfur. All relied heavily on OCHA’s coordination network for planning appropriate and proactive responses. OCHA satellite offices were opened in Darfur to expand humanitarian operations and to reach populations in need outside IDP camps and main towns, thereby enabling humanitarian partners to identify and respond to the needs of local populations.

Performance evaluation

Throughout 2005, field-based coordination was strengthened in the South through the establishment of eight field offices, supporting the creation of sector and area coordination arrangements where none previously existed. It also ensured close working relationships with counterparts at the state level, and allowed for an element of capacity building in order for state authorities to be able to take on their coordination roles, paving the way for future development opportunities.

At the field level, the deployment of Humanitarian Affairs Officers and the opening of new offices expanded the provision of timely analysis and information. Reports providing information and analysis on a regular basis on the full range of humanitarian issues in Sudan were improved and widely distributed.

Despite sustained efforts to ensure access to all those in need, security constraints limited access to a number of areas, particularly in West and South Darfur. Some armed groups refused free and safe access to areas under their control.

Through advocacy and the deployment of additional protection officers to the field, OCHA ensured that the protection needs of the civilian population were addressed more effectively. Gaps remained in some areas that started to be filled by the expanding UNMIS protection unit in late 2005.

An Inter-Agency Real-Time Evaluation on the Humanitarian Response to the Darfur Crisis found that aid organisations were slow to scale up, given the scale of the crisis at the time, affecting nearly 1.2 million IDPs and residents of host communities. Among the reasons for this were significant government restrictions and obstruction; limited capacity, including surge capacity; limited deep-field presence that could have led the response, for access, security and operational reasons; a still-inadequate protection framework; and limited strategic planning.



The evaluation also found weaknesses in monitoring and accountability; in the level of common understanding among agencies of the operating environment; the integration of assessment missions to provide for cross-sectoral issues (especially protection and gender); managing the tension between urgent, short-term needs and quality programming; and the induction and training of humanitarian workers.

Generally declining morbidity and mortality rates over time suggest that the response did prevent additional mortality that could have resulted from the displacement and loss of access to livelihoods after the initial crisis. But, as the evaluation team concluded during its third visit in June 2005, the still significant gaps in assistance, continuing human rights abuses, lack of access to war affected populations in rebel-controlled areas and concerns about the quality and consistency of aid delivery and services were troubling.

The HC is now leading discussions with key stakeholders in Sudan to prioritise the most relevant among the recommendations, and to develop an action plan for their implementation. The IASC has also committed to ensuring that critical areas of concern identified in the evaluation are adequately addressed within individual member organisations, subject to the availability of resources.

OCHA’s presence in Sudan expanded throughout 2005
in response to growing humanitarian needs.

In Darfur, the largest humanitarian operation in the world, OCHA continued to coordinate and facilitate the work of some 1,000 international and more than 13,000 national relief workers amid continued violence, massive displacement, severe access restrictions and a volatile security situation. In Southern Sudan, large-scale and acute humanitarian needs remain since years of war have ravaged essential services and eroded people’s coping mechanisms. Needs are only likely to increase with the expected return of hundreds of thousands of IDPs and refugees, as well as increased access to many areas.

Internally Displaced

The situation of several million IDPs in and around Khartoum continues to demand attention and assistance, while the former Transitional Areas and the eastern region present yet more humanitarian challenges. In that context, OCHA’s coordination activity is essential. With a large number of aid agencies and even greater numbers of beneficiaries in Africa’s largest country, ensuring that aid reaches vulnerable populations is vital. Regular joint assessments and monitoring, organised by OCHA, allow all agencies to target aid more effectively, facilitate greater coverage and enable work to protect civilians.

Safety and Security

The Emergency Preparedness and Response Unit helps agencies prepare contingency plans and responses, and OCHA plays a crucial role as the primary interlocutor with government and rebel movements, advocating with all parties and authorities to respect international and national law, and working to ensure the safety and security of civilians and aid workers.

Advocacy and Information Management

With very difficult conditions on the ground, OCHA’s information gathering and dissemination keeps not just Sudan but the world abreast of the humanitarian situation. As a glaring microscope and prohibitive environment with a daily threat of punishment has effectively halted NGO advocacy, OCHA uses its mandate to publicly address issues relating to humanitarian affairs




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