The rains have improved in southern Sudan since mid-July, easing drought conditions which had prevailed during the first half of the year, particularly in south-eastern Sudan.
Insufficient rainfall in June and July in eastern Equatoria, causing greatly reduced yields and destroying crops, has resulted in increased food insecurity in the area, although farmers are confident that the second planting will be successful. Elsewhere in the southern part of the country, rainfall conditions are generally good although access to seeds is poor and will prejudice the coming harvest.
WFP food aid deliveries are jeopardised by lack of funding for its aircraft, which is its primary means of delivery, and is waiting for a response to its appeal for funding for the remainder of the year.
A failed attempt to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on 26 June in Addis Ababa, openly blamed by Egypt on Khartoum, led to a serious deterioration in relations, with Mubarak using it as a pretext for support of the Sudanese rebels and an opportunity to undermine Khartoum.
Responsibility for the attack was subsequently claimed by a group of Egyptian Islamic extremists, (although Sudanese links have not been ruled out) but the damage was done, giving rise to hostile exchanges between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.
Subsequently, on 27 July, Khartoum announced that it was ready to resume peace talks with the rebel SPLA, under a proposal backed by former US President Jimmy Carter. Returning from a meeting with Kenyas Arap Moi, Khartoums Foreign Minister Taha announced that Lt General al-Bashir had expressed a willingness to sit down with Colonel John Garang of the SPLA.
Despite hopes that negotiations could start within a matter of weeks, fighting broke out along the border with Uganda. This was followed by the refusal from Khartoum to renew the cease-fire, and there are worrying signs that youth conscription by the Sudanese authorities for military service has resumed.
International support for Sudan from the West is under further pressure, with evidence of Sudanese involvement in the bombing of the World Trade Centre coming out of the Washington trial.
The International Monetary Fund still refuses to allow Sudan back, preparing a second six-month shadow programme to be closely monitored; and Frances support can no longer be counted upon as Alain Juppé, notoriously opposed to previous French involvement with Khartoum, recently took over as Prime Minister and Sudans primary ally, Charles Pasqua, former Minister of the Interior, was defeated.