Life-saving aid deal between Sudan, South Sudan

2014-07-09 20:12
Displaced South Sudanese citizens wait at a Sudanese border checkpoint in Joda, where Sudan's White Nile state meets the South's Upper Nile, after fleeing battles between rebel and government forces. (Ashraf Shazly, AFP)

Displaced South Sudanese citizens wait at a Sudanese border checkpoint in Joda, where Sudan's White Nile state meets the South's Upper Nile, after fleeing battles between rebel and government forces. (Ashraf Shazly, AFP)

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Khartoum - Life-saving aid could move from Sudan to its former enemy South Sudan under a deal to feed some of the millions battling hunger in the war-torn South, a diplomat said on Wednesday.

The two countries signed on Tuesday evening a memorandum of understanding for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to deliver food to northern South Sudan, said Kau Nak, the South's charge d'affaires in Khartoum.

"It's a kind of a life-saving mission," he told AFP on the third anniversary of the South's separation from Sudan.

More than 1.5 million people have been forced to flee almost seven months of war, after a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar spiralled into brutal ethnic conflict.

Aid agencies have warned that without massive funding, famine zones will be declared within weeks.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has already been forced to airdrop food in an effort to keep isolated groups of displaced people alive, in what it called a "last resort" operation.

Plans call for WFP aid to be transported from Sudan to "the devastated Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity states" in the South, according to a 7 July memo from South Sudan's Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management.

South Sudan separated from the north on 9 July 2011 after an overwhelming vote for independence under a peace deal that ended a 22-year civil war.

Tensions persisted between north and south, leading to border fighting in 2012.

Relations had begun to improve late last year, just before the South descended into what Oxfam, an aid group, calls Africa's worst crisis.

Read more on:    sudan  |  south sudan  |  east africa
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