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iconRELIEF ACTIVITIES Updated December 31, 2009

Section Contents:  History of relief assistance | DARFUR | Coordination with UNAMID | Coordination between UNAMID and the UNCT/IASC


History of relief assistance

Operation Lifeline Sudan

Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) was created in 1989 in response to the war induced famine in Bahr el Ghazal region of Southern Sudan. It was the first humanitarian programme that sought to assist internally displaced and war affected civilians during an ongoing conflict within a sovereign country. OLS was based on an agreement between the UN, the Sudanese Government and the SPLA to establish "corridors of tranquillity" to civilians on either side of the conflict.

OLS lasted from 1989 to 2005, and covered both North and South Sudan. However, there were stark differences between the operations in the North and South. OLS activities in Government held areas, including the garrison towns in Southern Sudan were organised through Khartoum and were subject to strict regulation by the Government. The Southern Sector was based on the so called Ground Rules concept which provided a unique framework for relations between OLS agencies and the opposition movements.

These different operational regimes resulted in uneven access to the affected populations. The OLS review of 1996 assessed that the scope of coverage of OLS in the Northern sector depended more on GoS approval rather than actual need. This uneven ability to respond to humanitarian needs is one of the major criticisms of OLS. Aid delivery in the South was also subject to manipulation, given the Ground Rules provision that access needed to be approved by the rebel movements. Distribution of humanitarian assistance was thus uneven - with a concentration of aid in more secure areas such as Equatoria and a lack of assistance to Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile.

UNICEF assumed the coordination role for OLS in the Southern sector and undertook the provision of shared services and established a safety and security system. This lead agency concept was unique to OLS.  Participating agencies signed Letters of Understanding which outlined basic programme requirements and OLS principles. By 1993, when OLS had developed into a massive air lift operation, WFP took over responsibility for logistics whilst UNICEF kept management of programme coordination.

Challenges of transition: humanitarian operations post-CPA

The implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement led to the transition from OLS to a new structure.  The transition from OLS started on 1 February 2005 with the creation of the Deputy Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator (HC/RC) post in  Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan. Funding for the coordination function shifted from UNICEF to UNDP and then to UNMIS in November 2005 when the DRC/HC was brought into the Mission structure under the pillar of the DSRSG/RC/HC.  Although there was no formal end to OLS, the establishment of the Government of Southern Sudan essentially rendered the operation closed and the Ground Rules void.

Challenges of integration

In the months leading up to the establishment of the Government of Southern Sudan in July 2005, the UN agencies planned the merger of the operations in the Northern and Southern sectors. There were multiple additional challenges, including relocating operations from Nairobi to Southern Sudan, integrating the former garrison towns into the Southern programme, and integrating UN programming with that of the incoming mission.

To address these challenges, the UNCT in Khartoum decided on the following actions:

    • Each UN agency should maintain a significant representation in Juba
    • Agencies in the South would have budgetary autonomy so resources for the UNCT South would not flow through Khartoum and support the line Ministries in the South.
    • There would be management decentralisation for representatives in Juba.
    • Technical support would be provided directly to Juba and would not be channelled through Khartoum.

The successful implementation of these objectives was dependent on a declaration by the GOSS guaranteeing the freedom of movement of humanitarian agencies between SPLA held areas and garrison towns, which was achieved in August 2005. By September 2005 the DHC/RC had relocated from Nairobi to Juba, and agencies were moving operations into Southern Sudan. By January 2006, agencies were established in Juba although many key office functions were retained in Nairobi. By January 2007, while UN agencies were set up in Juba, the majority off NGO operations remained in Nairobi. NGOs were more reluctant to move their operations, because of the expenses and financial risks involved and the reluctance of staff to move to the South. Shifting NGO operations proved the major challenge to consolidation of relief operations within Southern Sudan.




Figure 7:  Darfur IDP map and population


The conflict between the Government and rebel movements in Darfur began in 2004, and has created the largest humanitarian operation in the world, with 4.7 million people affected by the conflict receiving assistance and over 800,000 people fleeing from Darfur into Chad (250,000), CAR and beyond.

Aid agencies were slow in mobilizing an initial response to the crisis, and a large scale response was not activated until June 2004 when the Government eased restrictions on access. By January 2005, 1.8 million people had been displaced among a total of 2.4 million conflict affected persons.  Since 2004, the humanitarian operation has expanded exponentially, and declining mortality rates and other key indicators over time indicates that the humanitarian operation continues to provide essential lifesaving assistance to a large proportion of the vulnerable population.

Figure 8: Darfur Humanitarian Indicators 2004-07


By 1 October 2008, there were 2.7 million IDPs (an increase of 200,000 from July 2008). Displacement continues to increase, with over 317,000 newly displaced in 2008. In 2009, over 214,000 people were newly displaced between January and June alone. The humanitarian and relief effort provides assistance to over 4 million vulnerable beneficiaries and comprises over 17,000 aid workers and over 200 different UN agencies and NGOs.

The operational environment has become increasingly volatile and complex, with the fragmentation of rebel groups, a deteriorating security situation and increased attacks on humanitarian workers.  Attacks on aid workers in 2008 have doubled compared with the previous year. In 2008, a total of 277 humanitarian vehicles were hijacked (compared with 137 in 2007), 218 humanitarian personnel were abducted (147 in 2007) and 192 humanitarian premises attacked (93 in 2007). The ICC arrest warrant and instability and the South led to an increase in attacks on humanitarian workers in 2009 and resulted in more abductions and deaths.

Non-Governmental Organizations

NGOs are the main implementing partners of UN agencies on the ground in Darfur, providing essential medical care and services, water provision, emergency food distribution, shelter and sanitation efforts to millions in Darfur, both within camps for the internally displaced and in more remote rural areas.  UN agencies such as the World Food Programme, UNICEF and WHO work hand in hand with partner NGOs to deliver key basic services and life-saving assistance,and NGOs have a much wider presence  on the ground than UN agencies.

On 4 March 2009 the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Al Bashir for crimes against humanity and war crimes.  Immediately thereafter the Government of Sudan expelled from the country the following 13 NGOs whom it accused of providing information to the ICC: Oxfam GB, CARE, Save the Children UK and USA, the Norwegian Refugee Council, MSF-Netherlands and France, the International Rescue Committee, Action against Hunger, CHF International, Mercy Corps, Solidarite and PACT. The expulsion of these agencies is expected to have a dramatic effect on the delivery and scope of the relief effort in Darfur. For example, in Kalma camp in South Darfur, 91,000 internally displaced people are fully dependent on Oxfam and IRC to provide health care and water provision. In Kass in South Darfur, 100,000 people depend on IRC and Oxfam to provide clean drinking water and medical care.  The ability of the UN agencies to deliver assistance to those in need is severely hampered by the loss of their implementing partners. Until their expulsion, Action Against Hunger delivered emergency food aid on behalf of the World Food Programme to 450,000 people in Darfur, and CARE worked closely with UNICEF in providing water, sanitation and health care for 1.5 million people in West Darfur. The remaining NGOs and UN agencies, are taking measures to distribute food, water, and health services in the short-term.  Currently, they do not have the resources to adequately distribute seeds and tools to farmers, which will have severe long-term effects on Darfur's food supply. The Sudanese Government has since backed off from its commitment to expel remaining NGOs and has readmitted four American organizations provided they send new workers to Darfur.

Structure of the humanitarian operation

The relief operation in Darfur is coordinated by the RC/HC based in Khartoum and the Deputy RC/HC for North Sudan based in El Fasher (North Darfur). While UN agencies and NGOs with national programmes remain based in Khartoum, most agencies have senior representatives throughout Darfur.  At the state level, assistance is coordinated through the Inter Agency Management Groups (IAMGs) comprising UNCT/HCT agencies, ICRC and international NGOs.


Figure 9: Coordination between UNMIS, UNAMID, the UNCT, IASC and RC/HC in support of humanitarian and development activities in Darfur.

DO - Designated Official

SMT - Security Management Team

HCT - Humanitarian Country Team

UNCT - UN Country team

IASC - Inter Agency Standing Committee

JSR - Joint AU/UN Special Representative

DRC/HC - Deputy Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator

HRDLS - Humanitarian, Recovery, Development and Liaison Section

UNAMID ST - UNAMID State teams

IAMG - Inter-Agency Management Groups

RCSO - Resident Coordinator Support Offic

Coordination with UNAMID

Prior to the arrival of the United Nations/African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) UNMIS had a limited presence in Darfur. Protection of civilians, return and reintegration and demining activities were coordinated by UNMIS, but delivery of assistance remained the responsibility of the UNCT.

Contrary to UNMIS, UNAMID is not an integrated mission. While it is mandated to contribute to security for humanitarian assistance, the responsibility for planning and delivering humanitarian and recovery assistance remains with the UN agencies and NGO community. The coordination mechanisms between UNAMID and the Humanitarian Country Team have been developed in 2008, and,due to the complexity of the structure, challenges remain. The humanitarian community was heavily involved in the UNAMID deployment plan, which helped to ensure that UNAMID's deployment focuses on large IDP populations and areas of humanitarian operation. Increased UNAMID patrols have started to provide security in Kalma (South Darfur), the largest IDP camp in Darfur, which were scaled up at the end of 2008 in response to growing tensions in Kalma.

Coordination between UNAMID and the UNCT/IASC

Senior Management Level

  • JSR and the RC/HC meet as needed in Khartoum and Darfur. JSR and other senior staff of UNAMID are invited to UNCT meetings in Khartoum.
  • The Darfur based D-RC/HC meets regularly with the UNAMID management team and works closely with the Head of the Humanitarian, Recovery and Liaison unit in UNAMID. A co-location in El Fasher facilitates this cooperation. This cooperation has resulted in the inclusion of humanitarian priorities in planning by UNAMID for its military patrols and the establishment of UNAMID team sites..
  • The Humanitarian Country team meets regularly with UNAMID, rotating between Khartoum and different locations in Darfur. This allows for common coordination on key humanitarian issues.
  • Security Management Teams - UNCT and UNAMID have established a mechanism whereby the UNCT participates at the weekly Darfur Security Management Teams via video or phone link.
  • The UNCT/HCT remains the forum where issues related to policy, strategy and principles will be referred to. However, the Head of the HRDLS attends these meetings on a weekly basis and provides substantive input from UNAMID.

State Level Coordination

  • The Inter Agency Management Group (IAMGs) report to the UNCT/HCT and liaise closely with the UNAMID state teams.
  • The IAMGs in consultation with the D-HC/RC deal with all day-to-day and operational issues requiring immediate attention but also liaise with state level UNAMID teams.

National Level Coordination

There are eight national coordination fora related to components of UN work in Darfur: RRR, High Level Committee on the Darfur Communiqué, DDR, Mine Action, HIV/AIDS, Elections, Census, and Child protection. UNAMID is represented at the national coordination fora dealing with components related to UNAMID's work in Darfur.

UN and Partners Work Plan 2005-2009

The JAM provides the overall framework for development priorities in the interim period in Sudan. However, the UN and Partners have developed annual Work Plans from 2005 to 2009 which have outlined the humanitarian, recovery and development activities and requirements on an annual basis. The Work Plan brings together government counterparts, donors, NGOs and UN agencies to decide on the strategies, activities and requirements to address the humanitarian needs and to build the foundations for recovery and development. From 2005-2008, the plan included humanitarian, recovery and development projects. The table below sets out the funding received in the period 2006-2008.

Figure 12: Work Plan 2006 - 2008 Funding Summary

Work Plan for Sudan 2006 - 2008 Humanitarian Component





Total Requirements

$1.60 billion

$1.30 billion

$2.01 billion

Total Contributions

$1.14 billion

$1.02 billion

$1.49 billion





Sources of Funds to Work Plan for Sudan 2006 - 2008





Bilateral and Other Funding

$937 million

$840 million

$1.33 billion

Common Humanitarian Fund

$171 million

$149 million

$154 million

Central Emergency Response Fund

$36 million

$26 million

$16 million

TOTAL Contributions

$1.14 billion

$1.02 billion

$1.49 billion

Humanitarian Funding to Sudan outside the Work Plan 2006 - 2008





Funding outside WP*

$397 million

$370 million

$316 million

Work Plan Funding Summary, UN OCHA 2009

The 2009 UN and Partners Work Plan for Sudan does not include recovery and development projects and focuses only on humanitarian and early recovery needs.  The Work Plan requests $2.18 billion for 880 humanitarian and early recovery programmes. So far, $619 has been secured, leaving a net requirement of $1.6 billion. The Plan outlines the funding and operational framework for UN and Partner agencies to provide more than four million people with food aid and 1.5 million with safe water, to enable 54,000 refugees to return safely, to enrol 800,000 children in school, to clear mines from more than 7500 km of road and ensure that more than 400,000 have access to basic health services. Early recovery projects to accelerate the path to development will require $787 million.  Almost half of the requirement ($1.05 billion) is for relief and early recovery in Darfur. The Work Plan runs on an annual cycle but a mid-year review provides an analysis of achievements and challenges to delivery to date.

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