Mid-Year Review of the UN and Partners Work Plan for Sudan 2013
This mid-year review of the 2013 United Nations and Partners Work Plan for Sudan comes at a challenging time for the humanitarian community and for the people of Sudan. There has been significant and worrying new displacement; fighting between Government forces and armed groups has increased, as has inter- and intra-tribal conflict; the situation in Abyei remains tense; access for humanitarian actors to conflict affected areas of the country is unpredictable and the funding available to meet humanitarian needs has declined.
Despite these challenges, there have also been positive developments over the last six months. In particular, access for staff of UN agencies has increased in parts of Blue Nile State; a donors’ conference saw US$3.6 billion of funding pledged for recovery and development activities in Darfur; and the Government has issued a set of new directives, which it is hoped will lead to improved humanitarian access. In addition, the Government and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) held direct talks in April, while in May the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos visited Sudan and had constructive discussions with the President and other senior government officials. In terms of support delivered by Work Plan partners, 1.8 million people received food assistance, 800,000 children received school meals, almost 200,000 children received education materials and other support, and emergency relief assistance was provided to the majority of those newly displaced by fighting. Perhaps the biggest challenge over the first half of the year was in meeting the needs of the 390,000 people newly displaced by conflict in Sudan over this period. This includes more than 310,000 people displaced by tribal fighting and fighting between the Government and armed groups in Darfur, more than the total number of people displaced in 2011 and 2012 combined. Evidence from a range of Work Plan partners suggests that humanitarian organizations are struggling to cope with this influx of newly displaced people. Overcrowding has been reported in a number of IDP camps, placing existing services under severe strain and adding to concerns that humanitarian actors are unable to provide minimum required levels of assistance to all those in need. In addition, 80,000 people were displaced by fighting between the SPLM-N and the Government in North and South Kordofan.
In Addis Adaba, a timeline for the implementation of previous agreements between Sudan and South Sudan, aimed at resolving outstanding Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA ) issues, was agreed in March. However, tensions remain between the two countries, which must be carefully managed to avoid further conflict and increased humanitarian needs. In addition, concerns remain over the continued plight of civilians in conflict-affected areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, in particular in areas held by the SPLM-N, to which humanitarian agencies operating in Sudan have no access. In Abyei, the situation is stable but tensions are running high following the assassination of the Dinka Ngok Paramount Chief and the killing of 16 Misseriya in May, while in east Sudan concerns are increasing about worryingly high levels of malnutrition and water shortages. Over the first half of 2013, the humanitarian situation in Sudan has been exacerbated by a lack of funding for Work Plan activities. As Valerie Amos commented at the end of her visit to Sudan in May, there is concern that despite the significant increase in needs, the amount of funding available to humanitarian organizations is decreasing and that there is now an emerging funding crisis in Sudan. Funding has declined for a variety of reasons, including concerns about where agencies are permitted to go, competing needs in other countries, the lack of profile the humanitarian situation in Darfur has despite few improvements in conditions for those affected, and a difficult global economic environment. In response to this, Work Plan partners are endeavoring to deliver assistance more efficiently and effectively and to reach out to new donors.
At the same time as the humanitarian community is facing funding constraints, Sudan’s economy has continued to struggle with high inflation and a large budget deficit. There has been mention of additional direct bilateral support from other countries to supplement Sudan’s budget. Finally, while oil agreements with South Sudan could have the potential to help ease some economic difficulties, a recent dispute between the two countries has put this agreement in question and serious economic challenges remain.