UN warns of $1.3 billion funding shortfall

There is still a US $1.32 billion funding shortfall for humanitarian assistance and recovery programmes in 2005, the UN and its NGO partners warned in their revised 2005 Workplan for the Sudan, presented in Geneva on Wednesday.

The signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Sudanese government and the southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) on 9 January provided "an unprecedented opportunity to realise the aspirations of millions of Sudanese for peace, security and development, and to build on the CPA to resolve other conflicts in Sudan", the plan noted.

"After decades of war and under-development, the peace is fragile," the report warned. "The remainder of 2005 will be critical."

The revised Workplan estimated the total requirements to provide humanitarian assistance and protection and support the implementation of the CPA through targeted recovery and development programmes at $1.96 billion - up from $1.48 billion in the original Workplan - $643 million of which had been received so far.

The increase in the amount of money needed for 2005 was mainly a result of higher food-aid requirements than originally envisaged, due to new displacement in conflict areas and worse-than-expected crop failure.

Other factors mentioned in the report included increased assistance to support the spontaneous return and reintegration of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, and increased peace implementation activities, such as rule of law and governance, mine clearing and the repair of transport infrastructure.

Meanwhile, in a report to the Security Council on progress made since the signing of the CPA, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on international donors and Sudanese parties to meet the high expectations for significant improvement in the situation on the ground.

Conflict, he noted, had destroyed the economy, infrastructure and services across Sudan. Six months after the peace agreement, the much hoped-for support pledged at the Oslo donor conference in April had yet to materialise in any significant form.

"As the parties take the first steps in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, it is worth noting that progress made on political issues and ceasefire monitoring will matter little if the lives of ordinary Sudanese do not improve," Annan said.

He also urged countries that had pledged peacekeeping troops to the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to deploy their forces in a timely manner.

UNMIS will eventually deploy some 10,000 troops and 700 civilian police to monitor the peace agreement, maintain stability in southern Sudan and ensure the safe return home of millions of IDPs.

The Secretary-General called on the parties to the conflict in the western Sudanese region of Darfur to make every effort to successfully conclude the current round of peace talks in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

It was important that those responsible for atrocities in Darfur were held accountable for their actions, he stressed.

"Subjecting these individuals to the rule of law and due process will send a clear and powerful message that the Sudan is beginning to fulfil the promise of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which envisages a just, prosperous and democratic country where all Sudanese live in safety and in dignity, with full faith in the future," he said.

The war between the SPLM/A and the Sudanese government in the south erupted in 1983 when rebels took up arms against authorities based in the north to demand greater autonomy. The fighting has killed at least two million people, uprooted four million more and forced some 550,000 to flee to neighbouring countries.

A separate war in Darfur pits Sudanese government troops and militias - allegedly allied to the government - against rebels fighting to end what they have called marginalisation and discrimination of the region's inhabitants by the state. More than 2.4 million people continue to be affected by the conflict, 1.86 million of whom are internally displaced or have been forced to flee to neighbouring Chad.