The SPLM-N humanitarian wing and the top political leadership held a three-day meeting that ended yesterday to assess the humanitarian situation and to reiterate the SPLM-N’s commitment for the polio campaign to take place as scheduled. The extraordinary meeting came at a time when 28 months have passed since the Khartoum government denied humanitarian access to the civilian populations in Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, which resulted in more than 1 million internally displaced and refugees in South Sudan and Ethiopia. It came at the time when the Sudan government is intensifying its aerial bombardment against the civilian populations resulting in killing and wounding hundreds and terrorizing hundreds of thousands, in particular the very children whom we need to vaccinate urgently against polio. Their families took them to remote areas in caves and isolated places to protect them, and for their families, the protection of the children from the Sudan government’s aerial bombardment is a matter of life and death and is more visible than anything else.
The meeting resolved on the following:
· The SPLM-N is ready to sit immediately with the Sudan government to agree on the arrangement needed for the polio campaign as the two parties were asked by the UN Security Council in its statement dated October 10, 2013, and I quote, “the members of the Security Council called upon the government of Sudan and Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-N) to urgently resolve differences over the technical plans necessary, including for safe passages.”
· Given the long history of the Sudan government in terrorizing and bombarding the civilian populations, it is necessary for the two parties to the conflict to assure the civilian populations and the families of the children that need to reach the immunization sites that the declaration of the cessation of hostilities is credible, and it can only be if it is announced by a trusted body like the AUHIP that will work it out with the two parties and will ensure its sustainability during the campaign. In addition, the two parties are responsible to resolve issues at hand and they were asked to do so by the African Union and the UN Security Council.
· On the 21st of September 2013, the SPLM-N had expressed its readiness to sit with the Sudan government to the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, and we had asked him to bring up the matter with the AUHIP and the Chair of IGAD, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, as they are the only one tasked by UNSC Resolution 2046 and the subsequent resolutions by the African Union to handle the humanitarian issues in Sudan between the two parties of the conflict and so as to avoid the vicious circles of the unilateral agreements, which the SPLM-N signed on 18th of February 2012 and on the 4th of August 2012 with the tri-partite group.
· In a conversation between the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan and the SPLM-N Secretary General on the 16th of October 2013, the SPLM-N asked the U.S. Special Envoy to assist in expediting a meeting between the two parties to the conflict under the AUHIP to finalize the polio vaccination campaign as scheduled and as required by the UN Security Council statement on the 10th of October 2013 for the two parties to sit and resolve the technical plans needed, including safe passage.
· On 28th of October 2013, the Chairperson of the SPLM-N, reiterated in a letter to President Thabo Mbeki the commitment and readiness of the SPLM-N to sit with the Sudan government and immediately resolve the two issues that are hanging for the polio campaign to start as scheduled. Mainly, a credible cessation of hostilities that the two parties are committed to during the duration of the vaccination campaign. Secondly, who is going to bring the vaccinations into the SPLM-N controlled areas. The SPLM-N is proposing for it to be carried by UNISFA planes into the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile.
· The Sudan government, meanwhile, is carrying out its charming public relations media and diplomatic campaigns while on the other hand continuing to deny access for humanitarian aid, which constitutes a war crime in international humanitarian law, and bombarding civilian populations, and refusing to sit with the SPLM-N as the two parties to the conflict who are responsible for resolving the humanitarian issues and were asked to do so by the African Union and by UNSC Resolution 2046 and the last UN Security Council statement on October 10, 2013.
Secretary General, SPLM-N
October 28, 2013