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Statement from Former President Jimmy Carter on Extension of Sudanese Cease-Fire

ATLANTA, GA.... I commend the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and the South Sudan Independence Movement (SSIM) for their decisions to extend the cease-fire in Sudan for another two months. During the past two months, the cease-fire has permitted the leaders and citizens of Sudan, working with The Carter Center and others, to carry out a major effort to eradicate Guinea worm disease, prevent river blindness, and immunize children against polio and other diseases. The cease-fire extension, agreed to by the SPLA, SSIM, and the government of Sudan, will enable the expansion of these efforts to further alleviate the suffering of Sudanese and will provide an opportunity to advance the peace process.

It is clear that some actions cannot be condoned and I want to re-emphasize that during the extension there should be: no advance of forces into new territory; no military attacks on adversaries; and no increase in the supply of armaments to existing troops. One subject that has been interpreted differently by the contending leaders is how troops and civilians may be supplied with food and other necessities during the cease-fire period. To prevent misunderstanding, it is necessary that: no items be included in these supplies that can be used aggressively in combat; no military attacks be launched against people or villages in advance of a supply convoy; and notification be given publicly prior to any movement of supply convoys. All sides must apply the same restraints to all allied militia groups.

I was particularly distressed by the seizure of humanitarian workers and supplies on May 7 on the White Nile River. I call upon all Sudanese leaders to reaffirm that the free and safe passage of all humanitarian personnel and supplies must be respected and protected throughout Sudan.

I congratulate Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi, chair of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD), for his success in reactivating the peace process to resolve the Sudanese conflict, and I fully support President Moi's efforts. I hope during this two-month cease-fire extension that progress can be made in addressing the key concerns of all parties.

During the past two months, the cease-fire has provided an unprecedented opportunity and challenge to advance health programs throughout Sudan. Through the tireless endeavors of Sudanese and humanitarian organizations, 609 of the 780 known Guinea worm infested villages already have been reached, and 595 new endemic villages have been discovered. Tens of thousands of cloth filters, which prevent the spread of Guinea worm disease, have been distributed, and health teams have had widespread access to undertake preventive education.

River blindness also is being tackled, with supplies already disbursed for health teams to treat at least 200,000 people. Over 23,000 persons have received Mectizan, a drug that prevents the disease. In addition, 100,000 children have been targeted for immunization against measles, polio, and tuberculosis. Also, tens of thousands of children are to receive Vitamin A supplements.

The health programs have made an impressive start in meeting the goals set at the beginning of the cease-fire. Already, through the joint initiatives of Sudanese and humanitarian organizations, some regions that have been inaccessible for almost 15 years now are being surveyed to determine health needs. War is the main impediment preventing Guinea worm from being the second major disease after smallpox to be globally eradicated. With a continued cease-fire, I believe that health goals can be met, and progress can be made in bringing a resolution to this devastating conflict.

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