• April 23, 2008
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IRIN News: Progress at Juba Peace Talks Depends on “Pencils and Helicopters”

IRIN News reports today that progress at the Juba peace talks depends on skillful mediation, but also pencils and helicopter flights. "Like everything in Sudan, it's a logistics operation…everything is expensive," said an official close to the process. A low-key but hectic operation has been running since last year, booking flights, paying hotel bills, telephone bills and per diems, and shuttling VIPs to and from remote locations. The talks are getting "bigger and bigger" and more professional, the official said, with teams from the LRA and Ugandan government joined by legal, security and other advisers. In Juba, a flood of UN and other aid workers, government officials and business people has made prices rocket, spawned dozens of bars and restaurants and made the city what one donor official called a "cowboy town." In addition, a new airstrip is being levelled near Ri-Kwangba to allow the LRA delegation to meet with its leadership via helicopter. These costs may well be what it takes to reach an agreement, but there is a risk. One observer told IRIN, "We have to ensure we don't make it a business…and they sit there for the next three years." Read more at IRIN News.

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