Mid-Year Review of the Workplan for Sudan 2012

14 August 2012

The Mid-Year Review of the 2012 Sudan Humanitarian Work Plan (HWP) comes at a time of growing concern for Sudan.The first half of 2012 witnessed a serious escalation of tensions between Sudan and South Sudan over outstanding Compre­hensive Peace Agreement (CPA) issues and South Sudan’s decision to halt transporting oil through Sudan.The height­ened tensions spilled over into conflict and culminated in the occupation of the Higlig area by South Sudanese armed forces and destruction of key oil installations in April.This caused yet more displacement and vulnerability in the border areas.

Sudan’s economic situation continued to deteriorate generally due to the loss of oil revenues, high levels of inflation, a weak­ening currency and poor harvests.Together, these factors have raised prices of basic food items and increased concerns over food security throughout the country.This comes at a time of decreased government revenues: government development spending and transfers to the states for basic service delivery and social safety nets have decreased by 26% and 20% respec­tively compared to this time last year.

Meanwhile, the continuation of armed conflict in South Kordo­fan and Blue Nile between Government forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N) has been a major cause for concern.The conflict has continued to affect civilians.Some 655,000 people, according to estimates, have been displaced or severely affected in both states.There are signals that the humanitarian situation is deteriorating fast in SPLM-N held areas which have been cut off for many months and where there are reported to be severe food shortages and few functioning health services.In addition to the large number of people who are internally displaced from the fight­ing in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, by the end of June 2012 over 200,000 refugees had fled to South Sudan and Ethiopia.

The United Nations (UN) and its humanitarian partners have been able to provide some assistance in Government-held areas, but Government restrictions have made it impossible to deliver food and other emergency assistance to people in SPLM-N areas despite a tripartite proposal of the African Union, the League of Arab States and the United Nations for access to all conflict-affected people in the two states.

In Abyei, while the majority of the 109,000 people who were displaced in 2011 have not yet returned, 9,000 people have returned to areas north of the Bahr Al Arab/Kiir River by the end of June.The recent withdrawal of all Sudanese and South Sudanese forces from the area is a positive development and may pave the way for a large-scale return in the months ahead for the remainder of the displaced.

In Darfur, revised estimates indicate that there were a total of some 178,000 voluntary returns of refugees and internally displaced people between January 2011 and the end of March 2012, illustrating the fact that there is relative stability in many parts of Darfur, even though fighting has continued in some parts of the region.The inauguration of the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) in February demonstrated the willingness of the Government of Sudan to implement the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur.The DRA will focus its efforts on ensuring the sustainability of returns and leading the reconstruction and development of Darfur.The Government's financial support to the DRA will be critical to ensure the DRA can fulfill its mandate.Incidents of fighting and new displacement in some parts of Darfur and concerns over food security after a poor harvest season are potent reminders of the challenges ahead.

The initialling of a framework agreement between Sudan and South Sudan on the status of their nationals in the two coun­tries was a positive development.The deadline for people of South Sudanese origin to regularize their status in Sudan ended on April 8 amid uncertainty, as most people of South Sudanese origin remain undocumented.The embassy of South Sudan has now commenced processing emergency identification documentation but a significant backlog exists.Returns to South Sudan during the first half of the year were hindered by insecurity in the border areas.

In view of these developments, significant humanitarian needs remain in Sudan.Humanitarian organizations are planning to assist a total of four million people during the second half of 2012, which is in line with the estimated figure in the 2012 HWP.However, increased vulnerability beyond current levels is a distinct possibility during the second half of the year and humanitarian partners will continue to monitor the situation closely to identify new needs as they emerge.Contingency plans have been updated and can be activated in the event of a worst-case scenario unfolding.

While needs remain high in Sudan, the humanitarian commu­nity is facing an increasingly difficult operating environment in the country.Most recently, the Government asked seven inter­national non-governmental organizations (INGOs) to cease operations and close their offices in eastern Sudan, which will affect up to 600,000 people receiving assistance.Humanitar­ian access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile continues to be extremely restricted for international organizations, with the Government insisting that the bulk of assistance to these areas be channelled through national organisations.Such organiza­tions have responded, but generally lack the capacity to mount a comprehensive, large-scale response.

In Darfur, humanitarian organizations have access to the major­ity of people in need of assistance.However, areas under the control of armed opposition movements are largely inacces­sible; humanitarian organizations have not been allowed to transport essential humanitarian supplies into these areas.Meanwhile, increased restrictions have been imposed on the travel and movement on humanitarian personnel during the first half of the year.The Government announced that addi­tional procedures are now required for humanitarian person­nel to travel with the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), and this resulted in the suspension of some UNHAS flights in the first half of the year.

There are also serious concerns over humanitarian funding for Sudan.Only 43% of the overall funding requirements for the 2012 HWP have been met at the mid-year point, compared to 55% and 52% in 2011 and 2010 respectively.This significant drop in humanitarian funding comes at a time when humanitar­ian need remains high in Sudan and may even increase in the near term.The reduction in funding is a direct reflection of the lack of humanitarian access to vulnerable people and growing restrictions on how assistance is delivered, as well as compet­ing regional priorities.Decreased funding is having a tangible impact across sectors.Key life-saving sectors such as health and nutrition are 29% and 38% funded respectively, while fund­ing for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) activities is only 15% funded.Only 15% of required humanitarian funding for livelihoods activities has been received even though this is a key part of building resilience among vulnerable people and finding durable solutions for displaced people.As a result of this funding drop, many humanitarian organizations have been forced to scale back or even discontinue their operations in 2012.

Despite these challenges, humanitarian organizations have played a crucial role in providing life-saving assistance to vulnerable populations and creating opportunities to move beyond emergency relief in 2012.Over 1.9 million people received food assistance including through programming that aims to build self-sufficiency, while over two million people have sustained access to safe water supply.Nutrition and health partners have worked closely with Government counterparts to ensure people have access to functioning health facilities and basic medical treatment.Building the capacity of national organizations underpins humanitarian action in Sudan -- virtu­ally every international humanitarian organization is working to transfer their experience and knowledge to Government line ministries and national partners and will continue to support and complement national efforts moving forward.

Humanitarian action in Sudan is based on the recognition that while providing life-saving assistance is paramount, there is also a responsibility to further build on national and local resources, as well as support men, women, boys and girls to become more self-reliant and resilient, particularly those who have been displaced by conflict.Given this, the humanitarian community renews its commitment to the strategic priorities set out in the 2012 HWP:

  • Contribute to timely and effective humanitarian response throughout Sudan.
  • Promote and facilitate durable solutions, empowering people and communities by reducing aid dependence.
  • Build capacity of national actors to address humanitar­ian needs in Sudan.

The UN and its Partners requires $594 million to meet humani­tarian needs during the remainder of 2012.This reflects a 1.3% decrease from the original 2012 HWP requirement.Sectors have undertaken a reprioritization exercise of their projects based on the current operational environment, including access constraints and funding shortages, to ensure that funding goes where it is needed and will be most effective.Addressing humanitarian needs and gradually moving beyond emergency relief in Sudan requires a renewed commitment from all stakeholders, including the Government of Sudan, UN agencies, inter-governmental organizations, national and international NGOs, local government and communities, as well as parties to the conflict in Sudan. 

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14 August 2012

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