Oxfam calls for access to volatile Sudan

Emergencies, Media Releases article written on the 28 Jun 2011

As fighting continues around the border areas of Sudan and the soon-to-be independent Republic of South Sudan, international aid organisation Oxfam called upon all parties to cease hostilities and allow humanitarian access to affected civilians.

Oxfam is particularly concerned about humanitarian access to Southern Kordofan, where the United Nations has estimated that more than 70,000 people have fled the fighting between the Sudanese army and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and other armed groups.

Following weeks of fighting and displacement in Southern Kordofan, humanitarian organisations still have extremely limited access to the area to provide emergency supplies including food, water, and emergency shelter to civilians who have fled their homes.

The transport of relief supplies is severely limited with blocked roads, bombed airstrips and general insecurity. Aid groups, including an Oxfam partner, have reported that their offices have been looted in Kadugli, the capital of the state.

Despite the challenging conditions, Oxfam and its two partners in and around Southern Kordofan have material and staff ready to be immediately deployed. Due to insecurity, road and air blockages, and lack of permission from armed groups, they have suspended operations and evacuated staff.

Humanitarian director for Oxfam Michael Delaney said: “We need the fighting parties to put the lives of citizens first and put the weapons down.

“Tens of thousands have fled and are now hiding in remote villages or in the Nuba Mountains. It’s urgent that all humanitarians be given access in order to provide life-saving assistance.”

Fighting between north and south in the disputed Abyei region last month also caused close to 113,000 people to flee the town and the surrounding area mostly into Southern Sudan. However, the recent agreement for an interim security force and the demilitarisation of the Abyei area raises tentative hopes that a peaceful solution is possible.

In areas where fighting continues and access is limited, Oxfam stresses that humanitarian corridors need to be put in place so that civilians trapped by fighting can escape and life-saving humanitarian aid can reach those in need. But most importantly, the aid group insisted, the fighting must stop.

“Leaders need to remember that the only real solution is a peaceful one,” Mr Delaney said. “Both Sudan and the soon-to-be Republic of South Sudan will have to rely heavily on each other in the future. Having a peaceful border is vital for the long-term development and security for all Sudanese people.”

For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0400 732 795.