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Friday, January 15, 1999 Published at 18:52 GMT

World: Africa

Sudan ceasefire extended

The UN says millions continue to need help

The United Nations special envoy for humanitarian affairs in Sudan, Tom Eric Vraalsen, says that both the Sudan government and the main rebel faction in the south of the country, have agreed to extend humanitarian ceasefires for famine areas.

Martin Dawes: "There is now reason to be concerned about the worst-hit famine region".
The agreements were due to expire today. They were originally announced in July last year for three months, and extended in October until today.

Humanitarian agencies working in the south had warned of hundreds of thousands of people at risk if the ceasefires were not renewed.

Mr Vraalsen said he was pleased that both sides had agreed to the extension.

The rebel SPLA group had always said it would agree to prolong the ceasefire if there was a need and the government went along with the process, although it has said it would like a more comprehensive agreement.

[ image: SPLA would like a more comprehensive settlement]
SPLA would like a more comprehensive settlement
The BBC East Africa Correspondent, Martin Dawes, says the truces have held in the areas of the direst need, even if fighting has continued elsewhere. He adds that there is now reason to be concerned about Bahr al Ghazal, the worst hit famine region.

A renegade warlord whose troops repeatedly devastated the area and targetted aid operations may again be about to cause trouble.

Kerobino Bol has recently returned to the government side after a dalliance with the rebels. The SPLA says he is now heading towards Bahr al Ghazal with 750 men and that he is being facilitated by the government.

International donors are being asked to find about US$180m for UN humanitarian efforts in Sudan during the year.

Mr Vraalsen says it is still an extremely fragile situation and that along with the humanitarian operation, there needs to be a political effort to arrive at a peace settlement.

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