Washington D.C., 23 February 2000
Subject: Sudan – NGO Memorandum of Understanding
Further to my communication of 8 February 2000 concerning a unified response of the international community to the 1st. of March deadline for humanitarian NGOs to sign the SRRA Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), I would like to brief you on the results of the joint demarche that I have undertaken with the US Special Envoy Mr. Harry Johnston and the German Ambassador on behalf of the European Union when we met Dr. John Garang in Nairobi on the 18th. of February.
Much to our disappointment, the meeting with the SPLM leadership did not result in a lifting of the deadline or a revision of any aspects of the MOU. At my request, a private meeting with Dr. Garang took place in the afternoon of the 18th. of February – again unfortunately without tangible results. It is therefore my duty to inform you that the deadline imposed by the SRRA for NGOs to sign the 19th August version of the MOU remains in force. We have been notified by the SRRA that personnel of NGOs that do not sign must evacuate SPLM-held areas by the 29th. of February. I regret very much this turn of events.
In a meeting on 21 February with the SRRA representative in Nairobi, the OLS Southern Sector Coordinator obtained from the SRRA agreement that the assets of departing NGOs will be safely guarded and could be removed from their locations in the field up to the end of March. The exercise will be conducted through the means of an inventory to be jointly signed by an OLS representative, the concerned NGO and the SRRA counterpart on the ground. OLS will assist in the evacuation of personnel and assets as well as logistics.
Please rest assured that the United Nations will respect the decision of the NGOs and will support them in every way possible. The United Nations will undertake the evacuation of NGO personnel from locations in the field and will support NGOs who wish to establish programmes in areas outside of SPLM territory. OLS will continue to support the membership of expelled NGOs in the OLS Consortium and advocate for the right of the people of southern Sudan to receive humanitarian assistance.
I am reporting on my mission to the Secretary-General and shall keep you informed of any significant developments.
Special Envoy of the Secretary-General
for Humanitarian Affairs for the Sudan
cc: Nairobi Donors (via the Office of the OLS Southern Sector Coordinator)