U.S. Ambassador To U.N. Warns Of Potential For Famine In Sudan

“The United States and Sudan traded accusations [on Tuesday] over the humanitarian situation in the [border] states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, embattled since the north and south of Sudan split into two nations last summer,” the New York Times reports (MacFarquhar, 1/17). U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice on Monday sent a letter to the U.N. Security Council warning that food security could decline to an emergency level and could result in famine if action is not taken by the government in Khartoum, according to VOA News (Besheer, 1/17). Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Rice said, “The proximate cause of the problem … is that the government of Sudan has deliberately denied access to international NGOs, the United Nations, and international humanitarian workers to the most affected populations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile” and called the situation “unconscionable and unacceptable,” according to a transcript (1/17).

On Wednesday, U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan Princeton Lyman said 500,000 people in the border states could face “emergency conditions bordering on famine” in as little as two months, Bloomberg reports (Wild/Ferrie, 1/18). “Groups like the World Food Programme and UNICEF must be able to work in the border areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, he said,” CNN writes (Mabuse, 1/18). But Khartoum’s U.N. Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman on Tuesday “dismissed U.N. and U.S. concerns about a mounting humanitarian crisis in two Sudanese border states, saying the situation there was ‘normal,'” Reuters notes. “Osman denied that there were any restrictions on aid agencies accessing Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. However, he later said that aid agencies were not welcome in areas where rebel groups, which he accused South Sudan of aiding, were concentrated,” according to the news service (Charbonneau, 1/18).