The IRC Hails North-South Peace Accord as a Momentous Step Forward; But Says Immediate Action is Needed to End Ongoing Violence in Darfur and Northeast
International Rescue Committee teams working throughout Sudan say the north-south peace agreement signed January 9 is a tremendous achievement and has positive implications for regions of the country still embroiled in conflict.
“This is a great step toward peace for the whole of Sudan,” said Nadia Ali Altoum, the IRC’s Khartoum-based deputy director for programs.
The agreement signed in Nairobi after two and a half years of negotiations declares an end to a 21-year civil war that left an estimated two million dead, displaced millions more, devastated livelihoods, destroyed infrastructure and shattered trust among people and communities. The agreement paves the way for millions of uprooted families to make their way home and for millions more war-affected people to claim their civil rights and participate in governance after years of oppression and suffering.
“For many in southern Sudan who have known only war in their lives, Sunday was their first real day of peace,” says Linda Janmaat, who oversees IRC’s aid programs in the region.
Dr. Nathan Atem, an IRC health coordinator from the south, said the promise of peace fills him with joy and is almost too good to be true. “Now that the peace agreement is signed, we can finally think about rebuilding our lives.”
However the optimism about the accord’s potential is tempered by its shortcomings: The agreement does not cover the brutal crisis raging in Darfur, nor the lesser-known conflict in the Beja area of northeastern Sudan, both of which need to be addressed urgently and intensively. There is also concern about the challenges in implementing the agreement and overcoming the intense distrust between the north and the south.
IRC staff say the process of recovery, rehabilitation, reconciliation and peacebuilding will be a lengthy and enormously difficult one. Its success will rely not only on the signatories fulfilling their pledges, but also on strong leadership from the United Nations, which must hold the parties accountable, monitor compliance, support implementation and coordinate international aid.
“Sustained commitment and confidence from the international community and the Sudanese people are more vital now than ever before in keeping the peace process on track,” says Pierre Bry, director of IRC programs in northern, eastern and western Sudan.
And for many Sudanese, patience will also be an essential ingredient. “Economic development will not happen overnight,” cautions Janmaat.
The International Rescue Committee has been providing humanitarian assistance in Sudan since 1981 with extensive programs throughout the country. The IRC is one of largest humanitarian organizations operating in Darfur and is one of two groups providing aid in the troubled Beja area of northeastern Sudan. The IRC has been working to improve the lives of Sudanese people for more than two decades. We remain committed to helping them realize their dream of just peace and development. On January 9, they came one giant step closer to this goal.
What’s Needed to Bring Full Benefits of Peace to Sudan