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Diplomacy in Action

Recent Trip to Sudan


Special Briefing
Scott Gration
Special Envoy to Sudan 
USAID Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance Nancy Lindborg
Via Teleconference
Washington, DC
December 13, 2010

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OPERATOR: Welcome and thank you for standing by. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. During the question-and-answer session, please press *1 on your touchtone phone. Today’s conference is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time.

I now turn today’s meeting over to Mr. Mark Toner. You may now begin, sir.

MR. TONER: Thank you, and thanks to all of you for joining us. As part of our regular effort to brief you all during this period of intensified diplomatic engagement and the run-up to the January 9th referendum, we’re very fortunate to be joined this morning by our Special Envoy to Sudan General Scott Gration, as well as the US Agency for International Development Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance Nancy Lindborg. They’re going to brief us on their recent three-day trip to Darfur as well as update us on the security and humanitarian situation and talk a little bit about ongoing international efforts to reach a definitive end to the conflict in the region.

Without further ado, I will hand it over to Special Envoy Gration. Go ahead, sir.

MR. GRATION: Good morning to all those that are there and good evening to all those that are over here.

Two days ago, I completed a three-day trip to Darfur with Nancy, as you heard, who is the Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance. And during our visit to El Fashir and to Nyala, we met with UNAMID officials, with humanitarian organizations, with Darfuri representatives and leaders from the Government of Sudan. We updated our understanding of the current situation on the ground and we underscored our deep commitment to enhancing security and to improving living conditions for the Darfuri people.

While much of the international attention has been focused on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement recently, and certainly the upcoming referendum in Southern Sudan, we cannot and we must not forget about the people of Darfur. These people have suffered too long. And they continue to live with daily reminders of conflict, insecurity, displacement, banditry. Most of the Darfuris have seen little change in their living conditions over the past seven years. They currently see little hope for a brighter future. Internally displaced people continue to live in temporary housing. They depend on emergency assistance. And they don’t even know when or if they’ll be able to return to their historical homelands in safety and dignity, should they choose to do so.

Yeah, we’ve made significant progress in protecting civilians and ensuring that the people of Darfur are getting adequate humanitarian relief, but much more remains to be done.

On this visit, I focused on improving access for UNAMID peacekeepers, for international aid organizations. I also challenged those organizations to expand their footprint in Darfur wherever possible, to increase their presence in their field. While the Government of Sudan bears primary responsibility for creating the conditions for security, for stability, for holding criminals accountable for kidnappings and carjackings and rape, for facilitating development in Darfur, the (inaudible) movement, the rebels, must also refrain from (inaudible) and permit humanitarian access and (inaudible) peace. While I was encouraged to learn that up to 90 percent of Darfur is now free of combat operations, access (inaudible) rebel-held areas and sometimes combat operation areas remains a serious concern.

We call upon all parties to commit to an immediate ceasefire – all movements to join the peace talks in Doha and possibly in Darfur. Too many people have died because some rebel leaders would rather continue fighting than negotiating a peace deal. This is unacceptable and should not be tolerated at any level.

President Obama is as equally committed to resolving the Darfur conflict as he is to full and timely implementation of the CPA. And today, the Obama Administration is pleased to announce that Ambassador Dane Smith will join our team as a senior advisor, focused specifically on Darfur-related issues. Ambassador Smith brings more than three decades of Foreign Service experience to this job, including a tour as the deputy chief of mission right here in Khartoum, where I’m speaking from. He will also play a vital role in our diplomatic efforts concerning Darfur, as well as to help us implement our initiatives and programs in the field.

With that, I’ll give the remaining time to Nancy, who will give her remarks.

MS. LINDBORG: Thank you, and hello to all of you. I – as Special Envoy Gration said, we were able to take a very important three-day trip through Darfur and, I think most importantly, really reiterate our strong and ongoing commitment to the welfare of the people of Darfur, especially during this really very critical time for Sudan. We had excellent meetings with a whole broad range of actors and including Darfur people in IDP camps. We were able to see project sites and meet with a number of community leaders.

And I was particularly pleased that we had the chance to meet with a group of Darfur women, internally displaced people, and self described as the iron women of Darfur. And these women have sustained their families and communities through seven years of conflict and displacement, which is far too long for people to live in the uncertainty of IDP camps. Each of these women quite rightly noted that it’s in these camps that women and children suffer the most. They all call for sustainable peace and an opportunity to rebuild their lives, and that’s a goal that I think all of us share.

As many of you know, since 2004, there has been a massive relief effort. Many NGOs and UN agencies with significant U.S. Government funding have continued and preserved with their programs in Darfur to save lives and to reduce suffering, and they are continuing to do so today despite ongoing fighting, conflict, (inaudible) kidnapping, and many bureaucratic impediments that are limiting their action. They’re continuing to provide critical food aid, emergency relief supplies, sanitation and health programs, protection, and focusing on mitigating the spread of diseases, decreasing malnutrition, a whole range of programs. There are fewer than there were before. Those who are there, I applaud the courage and commitment of their continuing effort. And I think it’s important to note that as a result of their efforts, many of the health and nutrition indicators for Darfur are actually better than in eastern and southern parts of Sudan. And I’m calling right now from Juba.

However, what those 2 million – approximately 2 million internally displaced people in Darfur don’t have is the ability to rebuild their lives. They’re continuing to be in this limbo of temporary structures and too much dependency upon assistance. And I found it quite telling that it was the internally displaced camp members who themselves asked us to prioritize assistance that enables them to earn a living rather than simply receive relief.

We call Darfur a complex emergency for a reason. There are still urgent humanitarian needs. There’s continuing displacement in some parts of the country. While in other parts, there is enough peace that small but increasing numbers of IDPs are choosing to return home. This includes seasonal returns where people return to their land, harvest a crop during the rainy season. And it is clear to me that people are eager to reclaim a more dignified life.

So as a result, I see islands of hope, islands of opportunity to help people take early steps towards rebuilding their livelihoods. The women were calling for literacy, new skills. They want programs that emphasize support for small businesses. They want to strengthen their civil society. And importantly, I talked to people who are working on programs that are bringing together the nomads and the farmers to help ensure resolution of those conflicts and enable a peaceful coexistence.

Without question, security is the number-one requirement everybody cited as important for returning to their homes. And we need improved security and humanitarian access. And as Special Envoy Gration noted, this was a central issue in all of the discussions that we had during the trip. We know there’s continued volatility, including new displacements, and we’re continuing to push for the peace and the security and access that are fundamental for a more durable solution.

We will continue to provide essential humanitarian assistance, but we will also look for all those opportunities to support where it’s possible and where they choose for Darfur citizens to return to their homes to move towards recovery and help them in their quest for a peaceful future.

Thank you.

MR. TONER: Thank you both. We’ll now move to the question-and-answer period. And just a reminder, in terms of attribution, this is all on the record. And just a reminder as well, if you can just identify yourself with your name and your media affiliation before asking your question, much appreciated.

Operator.

OPERATOR: Thank you. We will now begin the question-and-answer session. If you would like to ask a question, please press *1. Please un-mute you phone so that we may hear you clearly. One moment, please, for our first question, which comes from Josh Rogin with the Foreign Policy magazine. Go ahead, sir.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. This question is for Special Envoy Gration. Last Friday, on a conference call with reporters, two Senior Administration Officials said that it has been determined that the January 9th referendum in Abyei will not take place, that there’s not enough time to complete the preparations. And they further said that there’s about a 50 percent chance that the overall referendum in Southern Sudan will take place on the designated date, January 9th.

Do you agree with those two statements? And what – isn’t that a big problem in terms of completing the mission that you’re all working so hard there to complete? Thank you.

MR. GRATION: Yes, I’ll answer the second half of the question first.

I had a meeting this morning with the chairman of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, Professor Khalil Ibrahim, and we discussed this in detail. We believe that it is going to be possible to have the referendum on time. Right now, there is everything funded to the degree it needs to be. And we have ordered the ballots – or they have, I should say – and they should be arriving anytime between the 23rd and the 25th of December. There’s a possible slip until the 27th. The polling kits should be in here on time, and there’s adequate logistics to get all these materials out to the polling centers before the 9th.

The – both the SSRC, which is the commission, and the SSRB, which is the board, have hired the additional polling people that they need, and training will begin this next week. There are the monitors in place, over 500 from the international side and 5,000 domestic. And those – that’s how many were there for the registration. We expect even more for the polling process. So we anticipate that it will be a process that is transparent and should be able to happen on time, unless there’s technical problems that we don’t anticipate.

There is one issue that concerns us, and that is there are some rumors of court challenges. And if these court challenges actually take place and this disrupts the process, that could be an impediment to the 9 January date. And we’ll have to see how that progresses. But in terms of the technical reasons, there should be no reason that would prevent us from having this on time.

Now, to turn to the first part of your question, which is Abyei, the resolution of Abyei remains in the hands of the two parties. It is now being worked at President Bashir’s level and First Vice President Kiir’s level. And President Mbeki, along with other former presidents who form up the African Union’s high-level implementation panel, are the ones who are facilitating those talks. Obviously, this is a very difficult and emotional issue, a very complex issue, with a lot of players involved. And we are encouraging them to do what it takes to get a solution before the 9th of January, and to do everything in their power on both sides to reduce tensions, to refrain from rhetoric that would inflame the populations, and to give assurances that this problem will be solved, and then actually to execute that.

QUESTION: Just to be clear, if you make your – if you’re working to get a solution before the 9th of January, that means there won’t be an actual poll in Abyei on the 9th of January. Isn’t that correct?

MR. GRATION: That’s correct. I think we’ve passed the opportunity for there to be a poll. First of all, to have a poll, you would have to have the Abyei referendum commission stood up. You would have to finance it, you would have to organize it, they would have to determine the criteria of who could vote in this poll, and then they would have to register people, and then they would have to conduct the polling. With 27 days left, this is probably not going to be possible. It will take a political solution to resolve this issue.

QUESTION: Are you concerned about the violence in Abyei after January 9th if the South splits and the North claims that they still – that Abyei is still a part of the northern territory?

MR. GRATION: Yeah. Obviously, this is something that we’re working very hard to prevent. We are working with both sides, as I said, to calm the rhetoric and to put a plan in place that would give people assurances that their issue will be resolved in a way that meets some expectations of both sides. This is probably not a situation where either side will be happy, but in fact is – that’s probably what we’re looking for, is a solution that probably makes both sides angry but neither side mad.

QUESTION: Thank you.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from Hanan El Badry of the Cairo News. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Hello. Hi. I just want to ask Ambassador Gration about Darfur. And after what been published few days ago about Kenya and how they provide the Southern troops with weapons during President Bush era, did you look yet about how the – some parties in Darfur, how they get the weapons they have to use?

MR. GRATION: Yes. We’re concerned about any more influx of weapons into Darfur. Obviously, we seek a condition where there is peace, where there’s a ceasefire, and it is in everybody’s interest to have a ceasefire throughout Darfur and to seek a negotiated solution to the Darfur issues. This is why I’m leaving tomorrow for Doha, where we will conduct discussions with rebel leaders, with the leaders of Qatar, who are facilitating the talks in Doha, and with the people (inaudible) like Mr. Bassole, who is the mediator for the talks. It is so important that we get a solution, a framework that addresses all the issues – not only the ceasefire, but land reform, wealth sharing and power sharing and justice and accountability issues. It’s also important that compensation be laid out.

And so, yes, you raise a good point. We’re concerned about arms, we’re concerned about the resolution of the rebel issue, but we believe that should be done through a negotiated settlement. And any more arms and any more support to rebels from outside is probably not useful.

QUESTION: Also, I would like to ask you, how can you address the issue of the water? As you know, the Egyptians are a little bit worried about the future of the Sudan and amount of water they used to get.

MR. GRATION: It’s my understanding that the amount of water that comes from Sudan after the referendum – and especially if the South chooses to become independent – the total amount of water will remain the same as that which has been negotiated from the 1929 treaties and on through.

It is also important to note that most of the water that Egypt uses comes from the portion of the Nile that runs through Ethiopia and not as much through this area. So my belief is that water is not going to be a major issue for the Egyptians. They will still continue to get that portion of water that they get now unless the nine countries renegotiate the treaty. But right now, I believe that they will continue to get the same amount. And the amount that comes from the North and the South, should the South choose to become independent, would be equal to the amount that Egypt gets from the united Sudan today.

QUESTION: Also, my last question – sorry, but I would like to ask a question regarding the future of Sudan total, because I heard about some idea that Sudan will end divided – to be divided to several countries like Darfur, the bigger area in the east, and Abyei later on. What about – or maybe a federal – but how can you address this issue?

MR. GRATION: We are working hard with other members of the international community to ensure that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is implemented fully. And when that happens, it gives the people of the South an opportunity to choose their future, whether they’ll be united with the North or a separate country. There is no other process in Sudan that would – that I know of that would result in separate countries or a federalized system.

The fact is I believe that the Sudanese Government here in Khartoum needs to work very hard to ensure that the people of Darfur are integrated fully into the North and that the Beja people and the people of Port Sudan in that region, the eastern peaks of Sudan, are integrated fully. And this is why the negotiations in Darfur – I mean, and in Doha are so important, because they lay out a future that includes power sharing, that includes well sharing, so that these regions get a greater share of the pie, and they include other issues that will actually unite the north in a way that listens to the needs of the people and does what a responsible government should do, which is to provide those public sector services, build infrastructure, and that will allow people to continue their lives with prosperity and dignity and human rights.

MR. TONER: Mark here. Just a quick reminder, we don’t have a lot of time this morning, so if you can limit your questions to one apiece, I’d appreciate it. Thanks.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question then comes from Ron Wallace of The Political Beat. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Good morning, General Gration. I just wanted – just letting you guys know I did some humanitarian work about – back in the year 2000 when I was in the Marine Corps down in East Timor, so I can pretty much understand what you guys are up against and what you’re doing. Of course, I was a soldier for the U.S. Government at that time, but my thing is – I don’t know if you knew about that situation over there, but I know all the conflict. I know there are some diseases over in the Sudan and Darfur.

What are you guys doing to make sure that the troops and the people that we have over there, that have been out in that country, to keep them from catching any diseases and being safe?

MR. GRATION: Well, Ron, first of all, let me thank you for your service. And I know a lot about East Timor, because it was the troops that I commanded that actually went down there. But I appreciate your concern for people that are working over here. And you can be assured that through the United States Embassy that’s here, through the Consulate General that operates in the South, that we are taking every single precaution that we can to keep everybody safe. Whether they’re the parts of the international community or whether they’re the Sudanese, we’re doing everything we can to make sure that people operate here in an environment that’s safe and that’s healthy, and that also has human rights. Thanks.

QUESTION: Thank you.

OPERATOR: Next question comes from Mina Al-Oraibi of Asharq. Go ahead, ma’am, and tell us the company you’re with.

QUESTION: Hi. It’s Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. General Gration, good talking to you again.

MR. GRATION: Thank you.

QUESTION: My question is just to ask if you could give us a little more detail about the new advisor on Darfur, Ambassador Smith. What exactly will be his remit and what you’re hoping to get achieved by having this special advisor on Darfur?

MR. GRATION: First of all, let me say that I’m really pleased that we have him as a key member of our team. Excuse me. He served as an ambassador in Senegal and Guinea. He’s been a presidential envoy to Liberia. And he has experience here in Sudan. He was a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea when it was part of Ethiopia. And he is just the kind of person that we need to be able to put – excuse me – the focus, on a concentrated and dedicated way, on the issues and challenges that we face in Darfur.

The Darfur situation is very complex, and in fact, it is – right now, it’s very difficult to work some of these issues as I rotate in and out of here. And so we will have Ambassador Smith able to – excuse me one second – able to spend more time in the field, able to work closer with the UNAMID forces, the AU, and UN, and work closer with the Government of Sudan on issues having to do with Darfur. So we are very pleased to have him on board because it gives us that additional focus, that additional specific effort that we need to be able to turn the tide here in Darfur and in Sudan. So this is a great addition and we really welcome him on board.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Paul Lott with the Advocate Nations of Africa.

QUESTION: Yes. This question is for the Assistant Administrator. As the political solutions are in the works, are there strategies or efforts to address illiteracy and education in the midst of all this, or is immediate relief and security all consuming? Are there zones of normalcy, at least, for some of the job population?

MS. LINDBORG: Hi. I think that’s – we’re at that point where we want to look for where there are those zones of opportunities for helping the Darfur people where they choose to return and where they’re able to return, that we can support that, as well as for those who are the in camps, help them prepare for restoring their lives with as many ways to think about economic opportunities and education.

We – it’s – seven years is a very long time for families to be in a limbo, and they are asking for all the ways in which we can help them move towards recovery and rebuilding their lives. So yes, there are opportunities to begin those steps, where it’s peaceful – where there is peace, where the Darfur people choose to return, and we are seeing some of that in small numbers.

QUESTION: Thank you.

OPERATOR: Our next question comes from Andrey Surzhanskiy of the ITAR-TASS News Agency. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Yeah. Do you hear me? Do you hear me?

OPERATOR: We hear you, sir.

QUESTION: Yeah. Thank you.

MR. GRATION: Yes.

QUESTION: Yeah, my name is Andrey Surzhanskiy. I am with ITAR-TASS News Agency of Russia. My question is for General Gration. First of all, thank you for your remarks, sir.

The question is this: You had a meeting with your Russian counterpart, Special Envoy Mr. Margelov, and I am wondering what specifically you discussed with him during this meeting. And my understanding that Mr. Margelov brought a message from President Medvedev to President of Sudan Bashir. Did you touch upon this subject? And speaking in general terms, are you happy with the role Russia is playing in resolving this conflict? Thank you.

MR. GRATION: Yes. First of all, let me say that my meetings with Mr. Margelov don’t just start now, but we’ve been in close contact for 18 months. We are not only professionally working this issue, but we’re personally friends, which really helps. And we really appreciate the efforts that he did to help move the Russian helicopters from Chad to Southern Sudan and the work he continues to do to make that possible. So it’s that relationship that we have through the special envoys that is very important. And my relationship with Russia through Mr. Margelov is very important.

So I don’t know exactly the message that he gave to President Bashir. That was a bilateral issue. But let me just say that we are totally aligned on our objectives and our purpose and our commitment to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, to bringing peace to Darfur, to supporting the peace process in Doha. We have our very close relationship, and we’re very closely aligned in our objectives, and we certainly appreciate the efforts that our Russian friends are contributing here in Sudan.

QUESTION: You mentioned helicopters that Russia moved from Chad. What they are for? I’m sorry.

MR. GRATION: What happened is, is that as the MINURCAT program is closing down and transitioning, we had an opportunity to move some helicopters down to Sudan to fill a shortfall. This is a shortfall that we tried to fill from several different countries around the world, and Russia stepped in and agreed to move their helicopters to Southern Sudan for a short period of time to make up a shortfall that we had in our ability to protect civilians and to prevent a conflict, because many of the helicopters that are currently in use in what the UNAMID forces – or UNMIS forces, I should say – are going to be used in logistics purposes to move ballots, to move people, to move things around in support of the referendum. And this backfill of the Russian helicopters was very important to make sure there was sufficient capability to meet any contingencies that might arise in and around the referendum.

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

MR. TONER: We’ve got time for just, I think, three more questions. And I would also ask that we limit those to news organizations.

Go ahead.

OPERATOR: Thank you. First question comes from Fatah Arman of Freedom Bells. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. My question to General Gration: General Gration, while you are focusing on Doha negotiation and bringing parties together, the rebels and the Sudanese Government, and we are witnessing that the Abuja peace agreement with Minni Minnawi is falling apart. How are you concerned that Minnawi would go back to war?

MR. GRATION: It’s a very good question. Let me just make sure we understand that we are definitely supporting Doha, but as you know, that effort may be transitioning a little bit in the next few months. And what we want to make sure is that as the process transitions, as there’s more implementation happening in the field with the Africa Union High Level Panel and with the UNAMID leadership that nothing gets dropped. We applaud the efforts of Qatar and of Mr. Bassole and the JMST that’s working there. They’ve done a superb job to produce a framework. And we encourage rebels who are not participating in that to include Minni Minnawi to be involved in that peace process that’s at the negotiation table.


At the same time, we are meetings with members of the civil society, women’s groups, and people in Darfur to make sure their voice is heard. Because as we talk about things like land reform and (inaudible) and (inaudible) and all those kinds of concepts, together with power-sharing, the people of Darfur have to have a loud voice, and they have to be part of the process, and their will has to be made known. And so we’re making sure that while the ceasefire and the agreements that are being made in Doha can be implemented, they are implemented with the voice of the people.

And so while we were in Darfur this last week, we listened to the plan that UNAMID has on civil society. We talked with members of the humanitarian community to see how the civil society can be integrated. And right – this next week, that’s one of the focuses, is how do we design a program that not only listens to the rebels and the government, but listens to the people of Darfur? Because there won’t be a solution that works until it includes all the parties, especially the people of Darfur – and when I say that, especially to the women’s groups, because they have a very important part to play in the future of Darfur.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Neil MacFarquhar of New York Times. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Hi. General Gration, I just wondered if you could go back to that reference you made to a court challenge, if you could be a little bit more forthcoming in terms of what kind of court challenge might be expected?

And just a few other points on that: Does the low registration in the North worry you at all? And just in terms of what’s going on in Darfur over all, there’s a sense that the ICC prosecutor was at the UN on Thursday and he was talking about hundreds still being killed. And there’s sort of a sense that perhaps people are trying to even scores and get as much as they can before the CPA agreement, whatever happens there on January 9th. Could you address that, please?

MR. GRATION: Yes. First of all, in terms of that court challenge, we don’t have visibility into what the challenge is. We understand that in an effort to make sure the referendum happened on time that we had to compress the time allowed for registration and the period between registration and polling. All those times were compressed, some significantly.

And so therefore the Southern Sudan Referendum Act was not totally complied with in an effort to reach the referendum date of January 9th. And while we think that this was a good tradeoff, we believe it was transparent and the process worked, and just because they shortened the time from three months down to a month in some areas, it really didn’t change the outcome and it hasn’t changed the transparency.

So I don’t know what’s in the court challenge and I really can’t speak to that, but it’s my belief that the process has been good and the process has transparent and fair. And we’ll see how that resolves itself.

QUESTION: The court challenge – sorry to interrupt. But a court challenge from the North, you mean?

MR. GRATION: We don’t even know who’s putting the challenge in, frankly. It’s at the individual level. Certainly, it’s not from the government. It would be individuals who are challenging this in a court, a constitutional court.

So in terms of the outcomes in the North, there were some slow starts, but the referendum commission increased the hours, operating hours of the polling places, and they increased by a week the time that they registered. And in the end, out of the about, let’s say about a quarter of a million people that were eligible, 115,000, or about 42 percent of the number, were able to get registered.

So we were pretty pleased with the outcome of the results. They’re still really counting how many got registered in the South, and we know the diaspora is somewhere around 5,600. So we believe that this will be a very good representation of the will of the people, that the numbers were where we needed them to be, and this really meets our expectations.

In terms of the violence in Darfur, it is true that there has been some additional fighting in recent weeks. And I don’t know exactly what motivated it. There is also fighting that’s going on between Arab groups. And so we are still concerned about any violence. Anytime anybody loses their life, no matter what the cause, is a great source of concern for us, and we’re doing everything that we can to reduce the inner tribal fighting and to reduce the fighting between the government and rebel forces. And this is why we’re out here. This is why we’re spending so much effort and this is why we’ve appointed a special advisor to focus on these issues to ensure that the loss of life is reduced significantly.

MR. TONER: Is there a last question?

OPERATOR: Yes, I was just going to say our last question comes from Robert Simental of Google Darfur.

QUESTION: Hi, Mr. Gration. On the last note that you just said, I was wondering what plans were being made to protect the civilian population and the IDPs in Darfur and Sudan in general, if major conflict breaks out in January or following the vote.

MR. GRATION: Yes. This is a concern that all of us have had, and it has been the subject of my discussions at the very highest levels with the Sudanese Government, with the South. I’ve met with the minister of interior, who is in charge of the police forces. I’ve met with the director of intelligence. And we’ve made very clear that we believe that the parties have to have the major role in protecting their citizens. And I’ve had assurances from all of them that they’re working very hard to ensure that people will be protected, especially Southerners living in the North, and other folks.

But we’re just going to have to keep a real strong eye on this. And frankly, this is the responsibility of the government, whether they’re in the South or whether in the North or whether in Darfur, and we’re going to hold the government accountable to make sure that they’re taking all precautions to make sure that violence doesn’t break out that’s associated with this referendum.

QUESTION: Will the United Nations have a mandate to protect IDPs?

MR. GRATION: The United Nations always has that mandate. If you read the United Nations mandate of UNAMID and also of UNMIS, it is primarily to protect civilians. And they will continue to do that.

MR. TONER: Thank you all very much. Thank you especially to Special Envoy Gration and Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg for joining us in the field. We appreciate your time, and thank you all. Bye-bye.

OPERATOR: Thank you. That concludes today’s conference.

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PRN: 2010/1804



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