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UN Relief Agencies Assess Effect Of Garang's Death

Relief agencies are keeping a close eye on developments in Sudan, following the weekend death of Vice-President John Garang in a helicopter crash.

Caroline Hurford is a spokesperson for the UN World Food Program in Rome. She says, “Right now, I can tell you that food distributions are continuing as normal. We are carrying out four air drops in the south of Sudan today.” Those flights originated in northern Kenya. But the situation has affected some other flights. She says, “I can say that unfortunately for today our humanitarian air service flights have been cancelled, both into and out of Rumbek, which was to be the future capital of south Sudan. And this is really a precautionary measure because we understand that there has been some shooting in the air. Although this has apparently died down.”

Also, the UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, is concerned about its repatriation efforts in southern Sudan. Jennifer Pagonis, a spokesperson based in Geneva, says, “Our operations in southern Sudan have been aimed at making sure that when refugees return home after the peace agreement has been signed that they’ve got something to come back to. So, our concern is that this does not derail peace process. That things will calm down and that we’ll be able to continue our work to make conditions suitable for these refugees to return.”

The UN agency spokespersons talked with English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua.