KHARTOUM: Sudan has suspended a United Nations program which gives job training and other assistance to thousands of refugees and local residents in poverty-stricken east Sudan, the U.N. said on Wednesday.
The state-linked Sudanese Media Centre said the Transitional Solutions Initiative (TSI) is on hold while both sides review the project "so it can attain its goals."
The program's beneficiaries are among 6.1 million people -- 18 percent of the population -- needing humanitarian assistance in Sudan.
TSI aims to help the tens of thousands of refugees from Eritrea and Ethiopia, some of whom have been in eastern Sudan for decades.
"We have indeed been asked to hold off on components of the program, the delivery on the ground, so that work can take into consideration and be guided by the results of the assessment, joint assessment," Pontus Ohrstedt of the UN Development program told AFP.
TSI is a partnership between UNDP, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and Sudanese agencies, with funding largely from Norway and the Netherlands.
Ohrstedt said the assessment should give some guidelines on how to proceed in about two weeks.
The review will particularly focus on health and education services for the refugees and the local communities who are their hosts, he said.
According to TSI's website, the program would directly or indirectly assist almost 163,000 people from 2012-2014.
It has offered a range of support including training in auto mechanics and milk production, establishment of home gardens to boost food supply, and provision of educational supplies for thousands of students.