“‘Not Acceptable!'” — Andrew Natsios, Administrator, US AID
Andrew Natsios, Administrator for the US Agency for International Development, has decisively rejected Khartoum’s bid to undermine Operation Lifeline Sudan relief efforts to southern Sudan:
“The principle of Operation Lifeline Sudan since it was created in 1988, was to allow the northern-held areas to be served from the North and the southern-held areas to be served through Lokichokio in Northern Kenya. Any change will disrupt the relief effort and endanger people’s lives, and we would not accept it.” (All Africa News, June 2, 2002; excerpt attached below).
But will this unambiguous declaration receive adequate backing?
Eric Reeves [June 3, 2002]
Northampton, MA 01063
Will Andrew Natsios receive appropriately emphatic support from the State Department, and other donor nations, in refusing to accept Khartoum’s effort to change the fundamental working agreement for humanitarian aid delivery to southern Sudan? Why has Natsios’ firm and principled declaration found no echo in Canada and European countries with humanitarian organizations operating in southern Sudan? Do these countries take seriously the crisis precipitated by Khartoum’s threat to abrogate the key principles of Operation Lifeline Sudan? And does the UN continue to support—through silent acquiescence—the capitulation to Khartoum by Tom Vraalsen (UN special envoy for Sudan) on this critical issue?
These aren’t questions with future or merely theoretical policy import: they have an immediate and direct bearing on the ability of humanitarian aid organizations to serve the immense and desperate populations of southern Sudan’s oil regions (primarily Western Upper Nile Province). This is true for organizations operating within and outside of the Operation Lifeline Sudan umbrella.
Why doesn’t Canada’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issue a strong statement supporting Natsios’ rejection of Khartoum’s effort to destroy the vital work of Operation Lifeline Sudan? Is it because the Ministry remains compromised and virtually paralyzed because of the ongoing presence of Talisman Energy in Sudan’s oil regions? Why is there no statement from the Foreign Ministries of Sweden, Austria, Italy, Great Britain, and France? Is it because of the corporate presence in southern Sudan of oil companies, concession holdings (e.g., France’s TotalFinaElf), key contractors (e.g., Weir Pumps of Glasgow, Scotland)? Does Germany remain silent because of the huge contract recently signed by Siemens to build near Khartoum the world’s largest diesel-powered electrical generating plant?
Why is the European Union talking of resuming development aid to the Khartoum regime rather than insisting on the viability of humanitarian relief to the most desperate population in the world today?
It would seem that oil has already bought for the National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum too much silence on the part of those who stand to gain most from oil development and the new flow of petrodollars.
But the crisis for aid delivery in the brutally ravaged oil regions of Western Upper Nile cannot be addressed by silence. If Canada and the Europeans countries cannot summon the modicum of courage to declare the clear truths that Andrew Natsios has articulated, then they will bear deep responsibility for the catastrophe impending in this desperate region of southern Sudan.
Similarly, if the United Nations Secretary General and his senior people working for Sudan cannot reaffirm the key principles of Operation Lifeline Sudan, they too will be surrendering any claim to moral leadership in addressing the humanitarian crisis in southern Sudan.
There can be no delay, no dithering, no evasion of responsibility. Too many hundreds of thousands of lives are at risk to permit any but the most forceful and principled of responses. The alternative is an acquiescence that renders those who are silent deeply complicit in all that looms in the coming terrible months.
[excerpt from] “Oil, Power and Religion Complicate U.S. Peace Thrust for Sudan”
allafrica.com (Washington, DC)
June 1, 2002
By Charles Cobb, Jr.
Asked about the N[ational] I[slamic] F[ront]’s assertion Thursday, that key “necessary principles” for humanitarian assistance requires that Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS), the umbrella operation for UN and nongovernmental agencies working in Sudan, operate out of the capital Khartoum, and that all relief be distributed from internal facilities—-presumably government or government-controlled, [Administrator for the US Agency for International Development Andrew] Natsios emphatically called those demands “not acceptable!”
The USAID Administrator, pointing out that 50 percent of relief efforts are in SPLA-held areas in the south, said the government’s requirements, “would destroy the relief program itself. The principle of Operation Lifeline Sudan since it was created in 1988, was to allow the northern-held areas to be served from the North and the southern-held areas to be served through Lokichokio in Northern Kenya. Any change will disrupt the relief effort and endanger people’s lives, and we would not accept it.”