Debate

Government's silence unsustainable: A clear message about continued Swedish long-term development support to Sudan is needed

The government's silence in relation to the major development and humanitarian needs in Sudan is unsustainable. When Sweden's voice for support for a peaceful development is most needed, both political will and a clear direction seem to be lacking. This is deeply worrying. The government should present a strategy for how continued Swedish support for Sudan should be designed to contribute to long-term peace and development in the country and throughout the region, according to representatives of Diakonia, International Aid Services, the Christian Peace Movement, Life & Peace Institute, Operation 1325, PMU, Save the Children and the Church of Sweden

Two years ago, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Minister for Development Aid Gunilla Carlsson spoke of a fragile Sudan that demands the commitment and cooperation of the outside world across borders in order not to fall back into war and suffering again (Göteborgsposten 10 February 2011).

We share this analysis and conclusion.

But where does the government stand today? The latest budget bill stated that the government would review the forms of Sweden's development assistance in both Sudan and South Sudan. But Sudan is not mentioned in a word when the government has now given Sida instructions for 2013. We welcome the fact that long-term development cooperation with South Sudan looks set to continue, but a unilateral commitment to South Sudan will be lame. It is extremely important that the Swedish government also takes a position on continued support for Sudan. The stability of one country depends on the other.

It has now been a year and a half since Africa's largest country on the surface was divided into two independent nations. This first period has seen a lot of unrest and the situation in and between the two countries is extremely fragile. The new armed conflicts in the states of Södra Kordofan and Blå Nilen are growing in scope. According to a UN report from January, the fighting has direct devastating consequences for 700 people in the area, many of whom are in urgent need of help.

The 2005 peace agreement was an attempt to deal with the problems of division and contradictions in what was then undivided Sudan by decentralizing power. But it was essentially an agreement between two warring parties, the ruling Congress party in Khartoum and the dominant movement in the south, the SPLM / A. The agreement paid limited attention to Sudan's other groups in South Kordofan, the Blue Nile, Darfur in the west and Beja in the northeast, and the problems are largely unresolved.

Remaining after South Sudan's independence, there is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society that in many ways resembles former Sudan. The country faces the same challenges in terms of power and control over resources, not only oil but to a large extent also access to water, agriculture and grazing land. Contradictions that become all the more serious when they receive ethnic and religious overtones. Failure to resolve these issues poses an obvious risk that the conflicts and fragmentation of Sudan will continue.

A sustainable solution requires major political efforts from Sudan and South Sudan, with the support of the African Union (AU) and the full support of the international community. At this critical stage of nation-building in Sudan and South Sudan, it is necessary to support a long-term strategy for sustainable peace and security. Only through long-term development cooperation can the capacity of institutions, both state and civil, be strengthened.

It is important that the assessments made to guide decisions regarding Sweden's continued development assistance are well substantiated and long-term in order to enable sustainable results. We and our partners in the region are happy to participate in the analysis work and goal formulations.

The government's review of development cooperation with Sudan has now been going on for a long time and there are still no guidelines for Sida on what development assistance should look like. In order to be able to constructively cooperate with partners in the two countries with a focus on long-term and results, the Swedish Government's guidelines must be clear. It is important that the assessments made to guide decisions regarding Sweden's continued development assistance are well substantiated and long-term in order to enable sustainable results. We and our partners in the region are happy to participate in the analysis work and goal formulations.

Through its long-term commitment and its historical role in the region, Sweden has a credibility and position that constitutes a clear added value. A clear Swedish voice is needed in the international donor community to support peaceful development in Sudan through a results-oriented strategy for both South Sudan and Sudan as soon as possible.

Bo Forsberg, Secretary General of Diakonia

Leif Zetterlund, Executive Director International Aid Services

Sofia Walan, Secretary General of the Christian Peace Movement

Peter K Sjögren, Executive Director Life & Peace Institute

Maj Britt Theorin, Chairman of Operation 1325

Niclas Lindgren, Director PMU

Elisabeth Dahlin, Secretary General of Save the Children

Erik Lysén, international director of the Church of Sweden

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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