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Aid Groups Ask US to Consider Cross-Border Aid Effort in Sudan

Relief food of the World Food Program is offloaded in Pibor, South Sudan, Jan 12, 2012.
Relief food of the World Food Program is offloaded in Pibor, South Sudan, Jan 12, 2012.

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James Butty

A coalition of human rights groups Thursday has appealed to the Obama administration to lead a cross-border aid operation into South Sudan to deliver much-needed food and medicine to the people of war-torn South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

Jennifer Christian, a Sudan policy analyst at the Enough Project, said the coalition is also calling on Washington to continue diplomatic efforts to open aid access to the region.

“First and foremost, it urges the U.S. government to continue to engage the government of Sudan in trying to get [it to] allow international humanitarian aid workers and aid assistance into South Kordofan and Blue Nile.  Second, and most importantly, the letter urges the U.S. government to consider taking steps now to initiate a cross-border humanitarian aid operation without the consent of Khartoum,” she said.

Christian admits that any such cross-border operation might be considered by Khartoum as hostile.

“Of course, entering another country without the government of that country’s permission is fraught with complications, and the letter recognizes those complications, and urges the United States government to take those complications and the issues implicated by a non-consensual, cross-border aid operation into account in planning any such operation,” Christian said.

She said the rights groups recognize these complications and that’s why they are urging Washington to continue diplomatic efforts aim at opening the aid access but coupled with considering delivering aid to the region without Khartoum’s permission.

The groups, which sent the letter to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, include the Enough Project, AmericanJewish World Service, United to End Genocide, Jewish World Watch, InvestorsAgainst Genocide, Stop Genocide Now, and Act For Sudan.

Christian said the humanitarian situation in Kordofan and Blue Nile states is dire.

“The Famine Early Warning Systems Network has said that the situation, in particular in South Kordofan, will reach a crisis level by March, which is one step short of an all-out famine in South Kordofan.  We have every reason to believe and the United Nations, and others have indicated as well in statements, that a similar situation exists in Blue Nile.  So, in short, the situation in both states is extremely dire,” Christian said.

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