Last week, leaders of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, arrived in Washington to meet with U.S. State Department officials and discuss U.S. engagement in the unfolding humanitarian crisis, as well as the ongoing peace talks with the government of Sudan. This is the first time the three leaders, SPLM-N Chairman Malik Agar, SPLM-N Chief of Staff and Deputy Chairman Abdel Aziz al-Hilu, and Secretary General Yasir Arman, have travelled together to the U.S.
While in Washington on September 12, the Enough Project hosted a briefing with the SPLM-N leaders and U.S. advocacy partners on the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. More than 20 partners attended the meeting while another 50 called in to hear the SPLM-N representatives describe the current humanitarian situation in the two states and provide insight on measures the international community should take to secure humanitarian relief for Sudanese civilians. The SPLM-N representatives stressed their party’s commitment to the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2046 and their willingness to negotiate with the government of Sudan on the basis of a June 2011 agreement concerning, among other things, the conflicts in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states and the initiation of a constitutional process in Sudan.
The SPLM-N leaders arrived amidst ongoing negotiations between the governments of Sudan and South Sudan, which are slated to conclude on or before September 22, 2012, per an African Union imposed deadline. Over two years after the start of negotiations, the countries continue to face challenges in reaching a comprehensive plan to bring sustained peace to the region. Post-secession issues—including the status of Abyei, border disputes and demarcations, security arrangements along the border, and citizenship—remain major points of contention in reaching a comprehensive settlement.
In a new Enough video below, Omer Ismail, the Enough Project’s senior policy advisor, sat down with the SPLM-N leaders to discuss the successes of their U.S. visit and engagement with the American government and people.
Arabic version of the video is also available.
In the short talk, the leaders discuss the impact of ongoing conflicts and the denial of humanitarian access to SPLM-N controlled areas. Speaking on the priorities of the visit, Deputy Chairman Abdel Aziz al-Hilu stated that the SPLM-N is working diligently to first address the task of getting humanitarian access into the region. He said:
We are now asking the international community and especially the U.S. government and people and other African states to mount pressure on the National Congress Party, or NCP, the ruling party, to allow relief to reach the needy people because many people [are] dying and suffering.
Secretary General Yasir Arman adds that President Bashir is using the denial of access to Blue Nile and South Kordofan as a tactic to manipulate the situation. “It is part of the war strategy of Bashir to deny access to humanitarian operation,” he said.
As an estimated 700,000 civilians are internally displaced or severely affected by the humanitarian crisis, and an additional 200,000 civilians have fled across the border as refugees, the SPLM-N urges that the time to act is now. Arman states:
We need to use the U.N. Security Council Resolution as entry point for a final settlement. We are looking for change. If we get change through [this] and share this settlement and if not, through an uprising, we are also ready for that. Change is inevitable.