Ceasefire holds, humanitarian concerns mount in Sudan's Nuba mountains

Sept 6 2002, (AFP)

The international community has failed to capitalise on a landmark ceasefire deal in Sudan's Nuba mountains, and should send more aid money to boost humanitarian conditions there, the body monitoring the truce said Friday.

Results of the territorially limited ceasefire struck in January between Khartoum and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement "are more than positive. The ceasefire is holding," Jean-Philippe Cevey, spokesman for the Joint Military Commission (JMC), told AFP in Nairobi.

The JMC is a neutral body comprising representatives of both sides in the conflict and chaired by a Norwegian brigadier general.

"The two sides have responded positively. They are working together every day," he added.

"There is very little money for humanitarian projects. Available funds are tiny and there are enormous needs for infrastructure, education, health, access to water and agriculture," said Cevey.

"Major roads should be opened so people can travel with their families and their goods. There must be trade," he said.

"The civilian population needs a sign from the international community. The aid is not as much these people deserve for respecting the ceasesire," he said.

More than 23,000 Mount Nuba residents who had sought refuge in Khartoum have signed up to be taken home in October, according to Cevey.

The Nuba Mountains ceasefire was renewed for a further six months in July and is seen as a litmus test for a comprehensive end to a war that has raged since 1983.

Peace talks between the government and the rebels reached a major breakthrough in July, but last week Khartoum pulled its team out of a second round of negotiations after the SPLA captured Torit, a major town in the south.