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Humanitarian negotiations: engagement with armed groups in Sudan and South Sudan

Time (GMT +01) 14:00 15:30


Irina Mosel – Research Officer, Humanitarian Policy Group, and co-author of “Talking to the 'other side': Humanitarian negotiations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, Sudan

Jonathan Loeb – Independent Consultant and author of “Talking to the 'other side': Humanitarian engagement with armed non-state actors in Darfur, Sudan, 2003-2012

Nicola Bennett – Humanitarian Policy Adviser, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) South Sudan

Ivor Morgan – Senior Policy Advisor, South Sudan NGO Forum


Martin Barber – former Director of the United Nations Mine Action Service (2000-2005) and United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan (1995-96)


It has been over ten years since the conflict in Darfur began and violence and insecurity still prevail in the region. War also continues in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile after several failed attempts at peace. Further south in Jonglei State, South Sudan, inter-ethnic and state violence fuelled by political manipulation and long-standing grievances have caused more than 100,000 people to be in need of humanitarian assistance.

In all of these contexts, the presence of multiple warring parties – including armed rebel groups and state armies – have made securing unhindered access to civilian populations in need a huge challenge for humanitarian agencies. Set against the backdrop of agency expulsions by the Sudanese government from Darfur in 2009 and the government ban on access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile, many humanitarian agencies have struggled to engage effectively in rebel-held areas, worried that such engagement could compromise their programmes in other areas of the country.

This event will examine the role humanitarian negotiations with state and non-state armed groups in Southern Kordofan, Darfur and Jonglei State have played in facilitating humanitarian access to people in need. Speakers will draw from interviews with armed groups, including rebel movements such as the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) as well as the state-led Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), field research and practical experience in humanitarian engagement with armed groups. They will highlight the challenges and compromises involved in negotiations and how and why negotiations succeeded or failed to improve conditions for a stronger and more effective humanitarian response in these areas of Sudan and South Sudan.