4 August 1998
I am pleased that we had the opportunity to talk on Thursday, 30 July 1998, about the famine in the Sudan, the enormity of which requires urgent and concerned humanitarian action to mitigate its disastrous effects.
The decision taken by your Government to expand aircraft clearance for Operation Lifeline Sudan to increase its access to people in dire need is commendable. I was also encouraged by the agreement reached on the three-month cease-fire in Bahr AL Ghazal. I was particularly gratified by the declaration of your Government this morning to extend it unilaterally to cover all of southern Sudan.
I would very much hope that we can add to these positive developments and fully observe the agreement we reached last May, by sending a humanitarian assessment mission to the areas of the Nuba Mountains, where humanitarian agencies to date have not been able to gain access, to ensure that the needs of vulnerable populations there are addressed. Following our conversation and your commitment to speak to your Minister of Foreign Affairs, I have asked my Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs to follow up with the Minister on this issue with a view to initiating an assessment mission at the first opportunity.
As always, the United Nations will continue to work closely with the Government of the Sudan to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches those most in need.
While humanitarian aid is essential to alleviate the current, unprecedented suffering, the only lasting solution to the plight of the people of southern Sudan is a cessation of hostilities. In this regard, I believe every effort must be made to make progress in the present IGAD talks in Addis Ababa. As I mentioned on the telephone, please do not hesitate to call upon us should you believe we can be of any assistance in this regard.
Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
signed Kofi A. Annan
Lieutenant-General Omer Hassan Ahmed Al-Bashir
President of the Republic of the Sudan
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