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Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York PRESS CONFERENCE ON SUDAN BY EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR Humanitarian supplies are being prepositioned at key locations in Sudan ahead of an expected referendum in the event of a possible mass movement of southern Sudanese from the north to the south, Valerie Amos, UnderSecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said today. Speaking to correspondents at Headquarters after her first trip to Sudan as Under-Secretary-General, Ms Amos said a return of persons displaced by many years of conflict was already underway “to a small extent” and that it was the responsibility of the Government to ensure that returns take place “in a free and principled manner” with safety and security guaranteed. The possible humanitarian implication of a large southbound migration was one of the questions that Ms. Amos looked into during a six-day mission that took her to the South, Darfur and the Sudanese capital Khartoum. “Work is already ongoing in Sudan to preposition humanitarian assistance near potential hotspots in southern Sudan and in the border areas,” she said. Asked by a correspondent if such prepositioning was a sign of fear among humanitarian workers of a new war, Ms Amos replied that part of the work of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs was to think about what could happen and to prepare accordingly. “It is certainly important that the political parties and the Presidents in the north and in southern Sudan make it absolutely clear that people’s security is their first concern, that people have the right to vote wherever they are, and if people do want to move back to the south, that we aim for a phased return,” she said. “Having said that, some people have started to move, so as part of our contingency planning, in the south we have used the “pipelines” that we have used in the past to preposition food and non-food items in case there is a mass movement down into the south,” she added. “We have to look at what we might put in place in the north as well.” Responding to a follow-up question, she explained that prepositioned supplies, if not needed after three months or so, would be redistributed as part of ongoing humanitarian assistance in Sudan. “It’s not an additional expense in that sense,” she said. “It’s an expense that we’d have to make in 2011 in any event.” During her trip, Ms Amos met senior government officials, representatives of United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations and ordinary Sudanese benefiting from humanitarian assistance, including displaced persons who yearned to go home. “I talked to people who had been living in camps for seven years and really, really wanted to leave,” she said. “They did not want to be dependent.” Ms. Amos reiterated her concern about growing insecurity limiting the ability of humanitarian workers to deliver assistance to the people who need it. With 27 international aid workers and peacekeepers having been kidnapped since March 2009, and four still being held captive, she welcomed Government efforts to resolved kidnapping cases and called for perpetrators to be caught and brought to justice. “Tackling impunity is the only way to proceed,” she said.

She added: “I asked for a renewed commitment from the authorities, in the South, in Darfur and at the federal level, to ensure that the delivery of humanitarian assistance is unhampered and free from any political, ethnic or religious consideration.” In response to questions about cutbacks in rations distributed to camp dwellers, Ms. Amos acknowledged the “terrible situation” faced by those whose living conditions hinge on the outcome of repeated appeals for international donor funding. “The Sudan 2010 consolidated appeal is only 63.6 per cent funded,” she said. “This is the situation not just in Sudan, but in relation to many of other consolidated appeals in many countries in the world where there is a significant humanitarian need.”