Operation Lifeline Sudan

Crisis and conflict are nothing new for Sudan. After the Second Sudanese Civil War that ended in 2005, the country has struggled to stand back up. Violence, rebels, political tension, and war have ravaged the country for years.

Operation Lifeline Sudan began 25 years ago in 1989, hoping to provide relief to those caught in the middle of the Sudanese civil war. Operation Lifeline Sudan, or OLS, was the first operation in which the U.N. conferred with an unrecognized non-state armed group. According to the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium, OLS was the largest-ever coordinated humanitarian effort. The report goes on to say that “negotiating with parties to the conflict enabled OLS to become the first relief effort in an active ‘non-international conflict,’ which expanded the realm of possibility surrounding emergency relief and humanitarian response.”

Dr. Lam Akol Ajawin, a South Sudanese politician, notes that OLS created a Sudan that thrived in peace, but that Sudan has been deteriorated by recent political aggression and rebellious acts of violence.

“OLS saved lives … That was its declared mandate. However, it is evident that the initiative created an atmosphere conducive to peace as it was demonstrated by the accelerated peace efforts,” Ajawin said.

OLS has taught the world many lessons through its success during the Sudanese civil war (1989-2005). As Sudan is caught in turmoil again, it may be time to follow in OLS’s footsteps.

In the past 10 months, thousands of Sudanese people have been killed in conflict and many more have been injured. Approximately 1.4 million have been displaced or fled their homes, taking refuge in neighboring countries such as Ethiopia and Kenya. With overcrowding and supplies running short, the poverty rate is slowly increasing for Sudan.

Here are the key lessons that OLS taught that may once again save Sudan:

    1. Coordinate with numerous parties and keep everyone engaged
    2. Negotiate with conflict parties to avoid misunderstandings
    3. Make the most of local networks
    4. Stay flexible
    5. Address underlying causes and exploit peace building opportunities

Before the current conflict, Sudan seemed to be shifting toward development. While the conflict may have stalled this production, there is still infinite hope for Sudan and all Sudanese people to live a life of peace.

– Alaina Grote

Sources: Conciliation Resources, IRIN, Secure Livelihood Consortium, New York Times
Photo: Static Flickr