The January 2011 referendum may show a majority in favour of an independent Southern Sudan and the establishment of a new African state. The parties are engaged in intense negotiations in Khartoum and Juba on outstanding obligations under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005. Norway is actively supporting this process with a view to ensuring a peaceful outcome.
At the same time, Norway is helping to build up humanitarian capacity on the ground that can provide vital help to and ensure protection of the Sudanese people. The UN has recently asked donors to help build up emergency stocks. Norway is giving USD 5.05 million (NOK 30 million) in response to the UN appeal.
State Secretary Espen Barth Eide arrives in Sudan today. Efforts to improve security and protect civilians will be one of the main themes of his visit. Large numbers of people are expected to migrate between the north and south of the country. Norway is concerned that this migration should be voluntary and orderly.
“The governments in the north and south are responsible for facilitating voluntary solutions and protecting the civilian population,” said Mr Støre.
A steadily increasing flow of refugees and displaced persons returning home to Southern Sudan from the north and from neighbouring countries represents major challenges. In the short term, it is important to establish an apparatus to facilitate voluntary return and the first phase of reintegration. The main challenge, however, will be the permanent resettlement of these people. This will require a comprehensive approach that takes account of security, peace and reconciliation, and integration of returnees in the long-term development efforts.
The future role of the UN will also be an important topic during Mr Eide’s visit to Sudan.
“The establishment of a new state in Africa would have ripple effects far beyond Sudan’s borders. This would affect the whole international community, and it is therefore very important that both the UN and the African Union play an active and constructive part in cooperation with the authorities in both the north and the south,” said Mr Støre.
Communications Adviser Kjetil Elsebutangen, +47 990 24 903 (travelling with Mr Eide).