Operation LIFELINE SUDAN
International Operation Name: Operation LIFELINE SUDAN
International Mission Name: Operation LIFELINE SUDAN
Mandating Organization: United Nations
Region Name: Africa
Mission Date: 1 April 1989 - Ongoing
Canadian Operation: Operation LIFELINE SUDAN: 16 March to 9 April 1993
Mandate: To provide humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons in Sudan
Mission Notes: Beginning in 1983, the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) began a bloody civil war to overthrow the Government of Sudan. Famine, as much a result of drought as civil war, became a serious problem in 1986. By late 1988 an estimated 250,000 people had died of hunger-related diseases, and one million people were displaced. Both the Sudanese government and the SPLA and supporters of each conducted “scorched earth “ policies and denied the delivery of relief.
The United Nations estimated conservatively that a further 100,000 people would die in 1989 if emergency aid was not delivered quickly, and that over 2.2 million were directly affected by famine. A UN-sponsored conference on relief operations held in Khartoum in March 1989 had considerable international support.
In April 1989, the United Nations authorized Operation LIFELINE SUDAN (OLS). The operation brought together almost 40 UN and non-governmental organizations in an effort to deliver aid to those in need. To do this, OLS negotiated eight “corridors of tranquillity” with the Government and the SPLA. Within two months 16,000 tons of aid had been delivered throughout the southern Sudan by aircraft, barge, train and truck. This was more than all aid delivered in the period 1983 to 1988. The OLS thus became the first UN humanitarian program to negotiate with combatants to gain access for the delivery of aid.
The period of “tranquillity” was short-lived however. Government and SPLA forces were fighting again in October 1989. Fighting spread not only throughout the south, but also into the western Darfur region. Again, one of the aims of both sides was to deny access of aid to displaced persons in the territory held by the opposing force. OLS, which had been operating in the midst of the civil war, temporarily halted operations in September 1992 after the SPLA killed three UN workers and a photojournalist. To this point they had been permitted by the government into only six sites in southern Sudan.
The humanitarian crisis again started to grow to alarming proportions. International pressure again resulted in peace talks. One result was that the SPLA, now with three tribally-based factions, agreed to allow relief to flow into southern Sudan in December 1992. The government also relented. The OLS was permitted to expand delivery of aid to 40 locations in the south; however, even this was struggle.
Peace talks broke down in May 1993 and in June the civil war restarted. To make matters worse, SPLA factions fought against each other. Food aid was again a tool of war. The government, while restricting international agencies, allowed unimpeded access to Islamic organizations that used relief to proselytise. OLS continues its attempts to deliver relief into Sudan, but has been hindered by all sides and their use of food aid as a means of waging the war.
Canadian Forces participation began in March 1993. On 1 March, UNICEF asked the Canadian Ambassador at the United Nations if the Canadian Forces could make available one Hercules for a ten-day period. The lone UNICEF-chartered aircraft had developed mechanical problems that could not be quickly repaired. By 6 March, approval had been granted for a recce party to determine the viability of the mission and mission requirements.
On 26 March, approval was given for Operation SUDAN, DND assistance to Operation Lifeline Sudan and UNICEF. One CC-130 Hercules aircraft, in support of Operation DELIVERANCE in Somalia was tasked to support the operation, subject to the requirements of Op Deliverance. Each day, starting 27 March, the Hercules would leave Nairobi and fly a load of aid to a location in Sudan. The aircraft would then fly to Lokichogio, Kenya – the base of operations for OLS - to pick up the next load and refuel.
The operation continued until 9 April, at which time the Hercules returned to its duties in support of Op Deliverance.
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