The Nuba Vision

Volume 1, Issue 1, June 2001

Having obtained access in June 1999 for a Humanitarian Needs Assessment, after a
ten year blockade of the Nuba Mountains, the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) in conjunction with other NGOs has been negotiating full access to all areas in the Mountains, including areas under both SPLA/M and Government. However, only little progress has been made in this respect.

In December 2000 the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association (SRRA) and UNDP organised a two days workshop in Nairobi. The prime objective of the workshop was to improve the understanding of the international partners of the situation in the hitherto inaccessible areas under SPLM control, in order to discuss and agree on appropriate implementation modalities for the joint UN/NGO Nuba
Mountains Programme.

The workshop was attended by 6 UN agencies, comprising FAO, OCHA, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and WFP, and 14 from INGOs and donor agencies, comprising CARE, Caritas Switzerland, Carter Centre/Global 2000, Christian  Aid, Concern Worldwide, DCA, DED, FAR, IRC, MSF-Holland, OXFAM-GB, SCF-US, TROCAIRE and USAID. Representatives from the UN agencies and the INGOs came from both Khartoum and Nairobi. Amongst the local partners, SRRA, NRRDO, NSCC, Diocese of El Obeid and two "independent parties" (persons with an experience of working in the Nuba Mountains) attended. However, the workshop had faced some difficulties in particular over the issue of free access to all areas in the Nuba Mountains.

During 2000 a total of five joint UN/INGO missions were conducted in the GoS and SPLM areas of the Nuba Mountains to deliver emergency supplies of seeds and tools, health kits and educational materials as well as to carry out four rounds of polio vaccination and technical assessments. Meanwhile in the GoS-controlled areas agency activities that have been ongoing for a number of years have continued. It is planned that these currently non co-ordinated interventions will either phase out or be integrated into the NMP once the programme is launched.  

“The UN and its NGO programme partners are committed to try to attempt to resolve the access issue to the satisfaction of both parties. Concurrent with the efforts to obtain unrestricted access to the Nuba region, the UN and its programme partners continue to seek every opportunity to be allowed to deliver assistance and to maintain contact with the people on the ground in all areas of the Nuba Mountains, so as to sustain their confidence in the efforts of the international community to address the Nuba question.”

The implementation of the overall programme was envisaged to start in December 2000, pending finalisation of the discussions on the issue of access with the GoS and the SPLM. Recently, however, negotiations have come to a stalemate on this point.  Because the GoS continues to insist that all supplies and personnel access to the Nuba SPLM-controlled areas should come via El Obeid, while the SPLM maintains that the areas under their control should be served from either Kenya or other areas in SPLM control in South Sudan. While the UNDP Representative in Khartoum is negotiating with the Government and SPLM for full access to the Mountains many Nuba are facing starvation, rampant disease and catastrophe. 

The recent offensive has intensified with dire consequences for the civilian population and for the food situation in the Nuba Mountains. There are signs of impeding famine already in the areas; the price of livestock is falling as people sell their assets to buy food. In addition, the price of food is rising astronomically and surplus food is being consumed. Tens of thousands of displaced people in Nagurban County are already living on wild fruits.