American envoy pushes for aid in ex-rebel bastion
June 20 2017 12:15 AM
Steven Koutsis (right), the United States’ top envoy in Sudan, poses for a picture with Sudanese children and villagers in the town of Golo in the thickly forested mountainous area of Jebel Marra in central Darfur yesterday.

AFP/Golo, Sudan

The top US envoy in Sudan pushed yesterday for more access to deliver humanitarian aid to Golo as he visited the former rebel stronghold in war-torn Darfur under tight security.
US charge d’affaires Steven Koutsis was in Golo as part of a tour to assess the security situation in Darfur as the United Nations prepares to downsize its 17,000-strong peacekeeping force.
Koutsis’ visit to the town surrounded by the thickly forested mountains of Jebel Marra comes weeks before President Donald Trump’s administration decides whether to permanently lift a two-decades old US trade embargo on Sudan.
“Golo is a strategic area for providing humanitarian assistance,” he told officials and security officers he met in a tightly secured building in Golo, an AFP correspondent reported from the venue.
“That is why we are here to understand better what is needed to bring more assistance here.”
Aid workers have complained that delivering aid to Golo and other parts of Jebel Marra has been extremely difficult given the mountainous terrain and restrictions imposed by the Sudanese authorities.
Although a relative calm prevails in several parts of Darfur, Jebel Marra saw pitched battles last year between government forces and the rebel Sudan Liberation Army — Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) group, which Khartoum accuses of ambushing military convoys and attacking civilians.
Tens of thousands of people were displaced in Jebel Marra in last year’s fighting, the United Nations says.

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