Sudan: Just past the August 2 deadline for final negotiations, Sudan and South Sudan reached agreements on two key issues this week: oil transit fees and humanitarian aid to South Kordofan and Blue Nile. On the oil agreement, South Sudan made minor concessions in nailing down a 3.5 year agreement to move their oil through Sudanese pipelines.
Khartoum also agreed this weekend to accept an agreement signed between the SPLM-N and the “tripartite group” – the UN, AU and League of Arab States – on humanitarian access to the two areas. The agreement allows for the tripartite group, in consultation with the SPLM-N, to select third-party, independent humanitarian aid organizations to deliver aid.
The implementation of the agreement – including final permission to access most-affected areas – relies on Khartoum, however; as such, reports from civilians in the area are pessimistic. Meanwhile, the WFP has announced plans to air drop assistance to refugees in South Sudan. Conditions in the four refugee camps to which civilians from South Kordofan and Blue Nile have fled have reached emergency levels, with Medecins sans Frontieres warning an average of 5 children are now dying each day.
Guess what? Your calls last week to Secretary Clinton about Sudan filled her voice mailbox not once, but twice – and she definitely heard our message! Thank you!
Congo: Members of Congress sounded their support for the State Department’s cut in military aid to Rwanda this week, sending a Dear Colleague Letter to Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Congressman Howard Berman and Congresswoman Karen Bass in Southern California signed the letter. With the M23 rebellion continuing in full force, and other armed groups forming or reasserting themselves as Congolese Armed Forces are diverted, more than 280,000 civilians have been displaced.
Thousands of Congolese took to the streets this week to protest the upsurge in violence. Regional leaders meet this week in Kampala, Uganda to discuss the three security options on the table: changing the mandate of the existing UN peacekeeping mission in Congo; incorporating a neutral force from African countries into the UN peacekeeping force; or establishing a new force pooled from regional armies. This last option, favored by Rwanda and Uganda, would be hard pressed to appear neutral, as all of Congo’s neighbors have a bad record of intervention within Congo’s borders.