Still Very Concerned about Darfur Crisis
NEW YORK/NAIVASHA/KHARTOUM, 26 May 2004 - UNICEF today welcomed the agreement of key protocols between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), saying that full-fledged peace is essential for the immediate survival and long-term well-being of Sudan's 15 million children.
"We hope both sides will soon conclude the comprehensive North-South peace agreement that all of Sudan so badly needs," said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy.
She said UNICEF is ready to invest in the country’s institutions and social services -- an effort that would help reinforce stability and build public confidence in the peace process. "We are hopeful that Sudan's natural wealth will be harnessed to the needs of children instead of war in the very near future," she said.
UNICEF is ready to roll out countrywide projects to help the Sudanese people seize the opportunities of peace, including much-needed advances in health, education and clean water at the community level. Thousands of children separated from their families and children recruited into armed forces will need special protection, while major movements of displaced people and returning refugees are also expected in a challenging and complex environment.
While some of UNICEF's community-building initiatives in support of peace are already funded and underway, the agency urged donors to commit new resources now so that major additional efforts can be launched as soon as peace is formally declared.
UNICEF noted that Sudan has serious humanitarian challenges that desperately need a climate of peace. Most serious is the situation in the western region of Darfur, where conflict has uprooted one million people from their homes and killed thousands. Despite a ceasefire signed on 8 April, half the displaced population is still not accessible for humanitarian relief, and major security and human rights issues remain cause for grave concern, UNICEF said.
UNICEF supports development and humanitarian response to conflict and natural disaster throughout Sudan. Since 1989, UNICEF has provided emergency relief to both government and SPLM-held areas of Sudan through Operation Lifeline Sudan.
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