FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Vanessa Parra, 202-828-0110 x225
Greater International Support of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement Important for Progress in Sudan
Statement by Melanie Teff, Advocate, Refugees International
"This week's Sudan Consortium meeting provides an opportunity for the world to focus on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in January 2005 between north and south Sudan. Refugees International expects major donor governments to attend with high-level delegations, and it calls on the governments which brokered the CPA to provide strong and consistent diplomatic support for the process of full implementation of the CPA. Ending more than 20 years of fighting, the CPA sparked great enthusiasm and interest worldwide. But the attention of the international community and much of its diplomatic and financial support moved on to other issues too soon, particularly to the conflict in the west of Sudan, in Darfur. This lack of attention to the implementation of the north-south peace agreement in Sudan is short-sighted and counter-productive. If the north-south peace agreement does not hold, there will be little prospect of achieving peace in Darfur.
"The CPA sets out a number of milestones, such as withdrawal of northern armed forces from the south and southern armed forces from the north, reaching agreement on the border, conducting a population census, holding national elections in 2009, and holding a referendum on self-determination for the south in 2011. Border demarcation, the size of the population and oil revenues are crucial elements determining the sharing of the country's wealth. Yet, the process of meeting most of these crucial milestones is faltering, and both parties must be pressured to comply with their commitments. The parties continue to dispute whether redeployment of armed forces is fully complete and there is still no agreement on border demarcation. In fact, fighting is taking place between northern and southern armed groups at the disputed border. The census is taking place in an atmosphere of great tension and distrust between the parties, and its results will no doubt be disputed. Elections and the referendum on self-determination are future potential flashpoints for conflict.
"Millions of southern Sudanese who fled during the war have returned to their home areas since the war ended, but they lack access to the most basic services, like clean water and health-care. The international community should pressure the Government of Southern Sudan to support these returnees and reserve adequate funding to rebuild their communities. Few have received assistance with livelihoods creation so they can re-establish their ability to feed themselves and be self-reliant. Failure to address reintegration and recovery needs generates frustration, has started to ignite communal tensions and could ultimately jeopardize the success of the peace process itself.
"Finally, the international community has not lived up to the financial pledges it made at the time the CPA was signed to support the south. International donors must identify an appropriate funding mechanism to meet people's basic needs now without sacrificing funds for emergency relief or long-term development activities. During the Sudan Consortium meeting, it is urgent for the international community to ensure that the people of southern Sudan start enjoying peace dividends, not peace penalties."
Refugees International is a Washington, DC-based organization that advocates to end refugee crises. In February of 2008 the organization traveled to southern Sudan to assess the humanitarian situation inside the country. For more information, go to www.refugeesinternational.org