EU to aid Sudan for ‘as long as it takes’
European Union Council President Donald Tusk
London, Oct. 24, 2017 (AltAfrika)-Even as global donors reduce their aid offerings to war-torn Sudan, the European Union has vowed to provide the African country with humanitarian assistance for “as long as it takes”.
“We will continue to provide this assistance as long as it takes.”
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced in Sudan’s three conflict areas of Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan due to fierce fighting between government forces and rebels.
Some 461 000 refugees have also arrived in Sudan since December 2013 when a brutal civil war erupted in South Sudan, the world’s youngest country formed after it split from the north in 2011.
“I recognise that the funding from the European funds, from the European citizens, remains very important in order to deal with these very unprecedented situations, not only in Sudan but worldwide,” he said.
The EU has mobilised some 422 million euros for meeting Sudan’s humanitarian needs since 2011.
Of the new $124m aid package, 53m will be to provide food, nutrition, health and education, while the rest will be channelled to help displaced people, migrants and host communities.
Even as Sudan’s humanitarian needs grow “day by day”, Stylianides acknowledged that there were only limited funds available.
For 2017, United Nations aid agencies have managed to raise only 39% of the $804m asked for.
The UN says the lack of funds has already led to dozens of health facilities being closed in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
“We need more funding, we need more donors in order to engage in these difficult situation,” Stylianides said.
Aid access ‘not negotiable’
It is all the more essential that aid reaches targeted people, he said, and that Khartoum gives “unrestricted access” to aid workers.
“This is not negotiable,” Stylianides said.
Aid workers acknowledge that since the middle of 2016, Khartoum has given increasing access even to what were previously no-go areas, especially after Washington made it a key condition for lifting its decades-old trade embargo imposed on Sudan.
The embargo was officially lifted from October 12.
Khartoum’s “open-door policy” when it came to accepting South Sudanese refugees and giving more access to aid workers will encourage global donors like the EU, Stylianides said.
“But we have to see more and more improvement in these very difficult things, because without access the humanitarian workers cannot reach the vulnerable people,” he said.
Campaign groups like the Washington-based Enough Project charge that millions of euros provided by the EU were being used to build capacities of Sudanese security forces for stopping the flow of migrants coming to Europe through Sudan.
Stylianides said EU aid was not distributed through the Sudanese government at all, and the bloc was in fact focussing on how to develop Africa itself.
“The first priority is to deal with root causes, is to seek investment in Africa through our investment plan, to create jobs for the youth in Africa, and of course at the same time to see growth in African countries,” he said. (AP)