SPLM-N demands to bring 20 percent of the humanitarian assistance to the affected areas directly from Ethiopia

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September 13, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government has downplayed statements by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in which it expressed readiness to provide guarantees on the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Two Areas through the Ethiopian port of Asosa.

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SPLM-N secretary-general Yasir Arman (Photo: Reuters)

After a series of talks in Addis Ababa between 9 to 14 August, the Sudanese government and the 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.

In a statement extended toSudan Tribune on Tuesday, SPLM-N Secretary General Yasir Arman has welcomed the initiative launched by Sudan’s former Humanitarian Aid Commissioner, Fath al-Rahman al-Gadi, in which he called to stop the war, address humanitarian issues and narrow gaps between the conflicting parties.

Al-Gadi, urged the Sudanese government to consider the possibility of allowing transportation of humanitarian aid via Asosa, demanding the two sides to embark on taking the necessary measures to ensure that Sudan’s security wouldn’t be adversely impacted by the move.

Arman expressed readiness to accept all guarantees necessary to assure the government side that Asosa would be the only external point to transport assistance under supervision of the Sudanese security and customs authorities to ensure that only humanitarian aid would be delivered to civilians in the SPLM-N held areas.

“The most important thing in this regard is that the Ethiopian government, a friend of the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N, has underlined this and also the African Union High Implementation Panel and President Mbeki have underscored the same position,” he said.

The rebel leader renewed his movement’s position that 80 percent of the humanitarian assistance would be transported via internal ports and particularly the large sized items such as food, while the remaining 20 percent which includes sensitive items such as medicines and soft materials as well as persons transferred to continue their treatment abroad would be delivered via Asosa.

Arman stressed they wouldn’t offer further concessions with regard to the humanitarian tracks issues, saying they made four concessions while the government position didn’t change.

He pointed that the transportation of assistance via Asosa is the only remaining issue between the two sides, describing it as a minor issue that mustn’t hinder efforts to stop the war.

Meanwhile, a senior government official who spoke to Sudan Tribune on the condition of anonymity, on Tuesday has downplayed al-Gadi’s initiative, saying it brings nothing new to the humanitarian file.

He warned against setting preconditions to sign the cessation of hostilities agreement, urging the SPLM-N to take serious steps to achieve permanent solutions without using the humanitarian cause as a pretext to evade signing of a peace deal on the basis of the Roadmap Agreement.

“Delivering assistance across the border is not consistent with the principle of respecting sovereignty of the states and national laws which is considered one of the main principles of the United Nations in providing humanitarian assistance,” he said.

The same source pointed the SPLM-N insistence to violate the abovementioned principles underlines the doubts on its objectives, saying the movement’s demand to transport aid from abroad is not objective nor it is based on a legal or humane logic.

“Those who sympathise with the movement’s position should focus their efforts and contacts to convince it to stop the war that causes the human suffering and we must unify efforts to achieve the sustainable peace” said the source.

The Sudanese army has been fighting SPLM-N rebels in Blue Nile and South Kordofan since 2011.

(ST)