5 April 2011 – To assess critical needs in the Wau area ahead of Southern Sudan's independence in July, an AU ministerial committee have spent three-days visiting the city.
The visit, which ended today, continued a series of meetings that have been occurring since 2005 to help the region prepare for possible independence, said committee member Macrine Mayanja, who also serves as Political Affairs Officer at the AU Commission in Addis Ababa.
"South Sudan needs a lot of funds and ideas from AU member states as well as from the international community as a whole," Ms. Mayanja said. "We are here to assess the situation and report back to AU headquarters in Addis Ababa."
The committee, comprised of Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) experts, aims to assess Sudan's post-conflict needs, mobilize capacity building support for post-conflict reconstruction, and sensitize the international community on the need for assistance.
During a meeting with Western Bahr El-Ghazal State officials, Ms. Mayanja said the team of experts would be focusing on the areas of security, humanitarian/emergency, political governance and transition, socio-economic reconstruction and development, human rights, justice and reconciliation and women as well as gender.
The team, which was conducting its assessments in cooperation with governments, international non-governmental organizations and civil society, had observed several challenges facing the region, she noted.
"What we have observed was that there are huge challenges facing South Sudan that require immediate assistance and attention from the AU as well as from the international community," she said, "The most critical areas include security, education and health services."
The committee met with Western Bahr El-Ghazal State Acting Governor Efisio Kon Uguak and various state ministers at the governor's office. Mr. Uguak noted that the state lacked health facilities and school classrooms as well as decent roads.
During the meeting, state ministers prepared project proposals and handed them over to the committee.
"The next AU plan for South Sudan is to make sure that most of the challenges are met," Ms. Mayanja said. "We are planning to have a solidarity conference some time before the 9 July."
The committee also visited a returnee transit camp, Wau Teaching Hospital and a feeding centre run by Catholic sisters. In addition, it held discussions with staff members of different UN Agencies based in the region.
Chaired by South Africa, the committee also comprises members from Egypt, Kenya, Gabon, Nigeria, Senegal, Algeria, Ethiopia and Sudan.
Before arriving in Wau, the committee visited Malakal and Yambio.