Knapen calls on Sudan and South Sudan to bury hatchet

The Minister for European Affairs and International Cooperation, Ben Knapen, has called on Sudan and South Sudan to normalise relations and give their attention to state building, economic development, and providing basic services to their people. Mr Knapen visited South Sudan at the end of his Africa tour, where he met with Vice President Riek Machar. The two men discussed various topics, including anticorruption. Mr Knapen conveyed the Netherlands’ compliments on President Kiir’s campaign against corruption and urged that the issue be thoroughly investigated.

In Mr Knapen’s opinion, Sudan and South Sudan should start work on the African Union’s Roadmap for peace and UN Security Council resolution 2046 without delay, as a final agreement on all outstanding issues must be reached before the end of July. In his meeting with Mr Machar, Mr Knapen expressed his concern about the serious economic impact of South Sudan’s decision to shut down oil production in response to Sudan’s high oil transit fees and seizure of South Sudanese oil. ‘The people are facing rising food prices, fuel scarcity and severe humanitarian problems. The parties must reach agreement now on the use of the oil pipeline.’

In South Sudan the Netherlands works with other bilateral donors, the UN and the EU to advance peace, stability and development. In striving to increase stability, the Netherlands and the international community call on both parties to affirm their commitment to a political solution.

The Netherlands also aims to tackle the factors underlying instability through development cooperation focused on water, food security, and improvements in security and the rule of law. This includes tackling corruption and promoting accountability for government expenditure.

Thirty Dutch military personnel, civilian police trainers and civilian experts are participating in the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). Mr Knapen visited the Dutch UNMISS contingent, a reception camp for returning refugees and the South Sudan police academy, which is supported by the Netherlands. ‘The people here are desperate for security and the chance to live normal lives: to go to work, take care of their families, build a future. Unfortunately, this is something that the government, and the police and army in particular, will be incapable of providing for some time. The main thing now is to keep the population from losing hope,’ Mr Knapen said.

South Sudan is one of fifteen Dutch development partner countries. Some €47 million of Dutch funding will flow to the country in 2012. However, the Netherlands does not give support directly to the South Sudanese government. The Netherlands has also contributed €6 million for emergency aid through the United Nations.