Position:Recognition of the right to self-determination for south Sudan

As negotiations began in Nairobi on 4 May, the Secretary-General, who was visiting Kenya at the time, reiterated his strong support for the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) - a seven nation group of countries from eastern Africa and the Horn - and the peace initiative launched by President Arap Moi of Kenya.

A Communique issued by IGAD in Nairobi on 6 May welcomed the agreement of the Government and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) on the recognition of the right to self-determination for the people of south Sudan, to be exercised through an internationally supervised referendum at the end of an interim period. The interim arrangement would be negotiated and agreed upon by the two parties through the IGAD peace process. The people of south Sudan would determine their political destiny on two options, namely, unity or outright secession. The Communique also noted that the definition of south Sudan would be the subject of negotiations in the future.

On 7 May, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on the parties to sustain the political momentum to find a negotiated solution to "one of the most protracted conflicts on the African continent".

Even as the Security Council welcomed the announcement of the ceasefire, on 23 July, the Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Carol Bellamy, in a press release issued after she visited the famine-stricken towns of Wau and Panthou in the Bahr el Ghazar region of southern Sudan, said that while the ceasefire was a welcome start, what children and their families needed most was a prolonged period of peace encompassing the entire area of southern Sudan, including western upper Nile, where insecurity was having devastating effects on the delivery of humanitarian assistance, as well as on the lives of the people who reside there.

As at the end of July, the United Nations estimated that approximately 2.6 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance in southern Sudan. Describing what she had seen of the crisis, Ms. Bellamy said "most shocking of all were the rows of freshly dug graves in Wau town, where I was told that 51 children and adults had died only hours earlier".

An airdrop, undertaken by the World Food Programme (WFP), was the largest in its history and intended to double the tonnage of food...

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