Don't you think there is more to this story than meets the eye? I do. If you have the time and inclination, check out the links in this entry. It may take a few hours to read the reports but it gives an idea of why I think this is an important story. We'll probably never know what's really behind most of the news here but one thing is sure: Norway has a knack for producing great peacemakers and has done loads to help broker peace for South Sudan, Norway has the world's respect in this regard.
Here's the story. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)
coordinates all humanitarian assistance in Kalma camp, South Darfur and helps to provide protection for vulnerable groups. Surely NRC can't be at all bad or wrong. So why has its contract been so badly messed around with by Khartoum? To intimidate, muzzle, suppress, oppress? Is it about rape reports (remember what happened to MSF and its rape report)? Is it about NRC speaking out the truth? If so, what's wrong with that? The truth hurts, but facts are facts. Face facts, if they are the truth Mr Bashir.
Today's news out of Oslo (via Sudan Tribune) tells us the Norwegian government is protesting against expulsion of NRC from Darfur
. If NRC is no longer coordinating the camp and helping to protect the residents, who or what is taking its place and why? Who is running the camp, the Government of Sudan? What has happened to NRC's aid workers in Kalma and its camp coordinator, Alfredo Zamudio? God bless them all. Surely such repeated disruption must, once again, impact on the 93,000 Kalma camp residents, of which 19.000 are children enrolled on NRC's education programme.
NRC has worked for displaced persons since 1946. It is a private foundation, one of the largest humanitarian organisations in Norway. Norway was pivotal in brokering peace and prosperity for Sudan. UN aid chief Jan Egeland is from Norway.
So what is really going on that journalists and field workers in Sudan can't report? Sudanese authorities continuously suspend the Norwegian Refugee Council in Darfur and do not respond to its repeated requests for dialogue aimed at addressing and resolving underlying reasons for the suspension. Why? What are the underlying reasons? Why aren't Sudanese officials and journalists properly reporting on and investigating this important news?
Sudan's president ought to explain why his government bullies the NRC and IDPs, and treats them with such contempt and disrespect. Does Mr Bashir say he is Sudanese or Arab? Or black African? How can one tell which is which?NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL CLOSING DOWN: DEEP REGRETS FOR LEAVING DARFUR
Via Norwegian Refugee Council [www.nrc.no]
Due to impossible working conditions in Darfur, NRC is forced to close down its entire humanitarian program in Darfur.Related storiesFURTHER READING
NRC's activities in South Darfur has been suspended for two months, the 5th suspension since the start up in mid 2004. NRC has been promised an answer from Sudanese authorities regarding the future status of NRC's humanitarian work in Darfur. However, that answer has not been given, forcing NRC to pull out.
Having repeatedly stressed that NRC is prepared to enter into dialogue with the Sudanese authorities regarding the resumption of our humanitarian work in South Darfur, this decision has been the most difficult I have had to make as Secretary General of NRC. We are all aware that the humanitarian needs are greater than ever in South Darfur, said NRC Secretary General, Tomas C. Archer, who recently met with the authorities both in South Darfur and Khartoum.
NRC's greatest concern is the 300.000 IDPs in South Darfur who from this week have been directly affected by the departure:
93.000 in Kalma camp
19.000 of these, children enrolled in our education program
128.000 in Gereida camp
10.000 in Otash camp
52.000 IDPs receiving food aid in Nyala
Closing down is the very last option. However, the frequent disruption of our humanitarian work, such as suspension for a sum total of 210 days, is forcing us to take this very difficult decision. We cannot work when the authorities suspend us continuously and do not respond to our repeated requests for dialogue aimed at addressing and resolving underlying reasons for this action, Archer said.
Head of International Department, Jens Mjaugedal +47 90 78 38 39
Media and Communications officer, Astrid Sehl +47 92 28 47 52
Feb 14 2006 SLA shot down gov't helicopter in Shearia, South Darfur
Hyperlinks to following reports are in original entry
Feb 7, 2006 Controlled anarchy at Kalma camp in South Darfur
Feb 4, 2006 South Darfur: Mershing's entire population of 55,000 fled to Menawashi after raids by Janjaweed
Feb 3, 2006 AU says SLA attacks in Shearia and Golo provoked Sudanese forces and prompted reprisal attacks by Janjaweed
Feb 1, 2006 South Darfur: Janjaweed attack IDP camps Kele, Silo, Tege, Um Gozein, Ton Kittir - Mass exodus from Mershing - Joint Sudan/AU forces to patrol?
Jan 29, 2006 Major escalation of violence in Jebel Marra Darfur forces aid agencies to evacuate - UN condemns attack by SLA on Golo
Jan 19. 2006 Firewood patrols for IDPs at Kalma Camp, South DarfurCONTROLLED ANARCHY AT KALMA CAMP IN NYALA, SOUTH DARFUR
Reminder: Norway's NRC has many large humanitarian programmes in Sudan, In Nyala South Darfur, NRC cooordinates humanitarian work in Sudan's largest camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), Kalma, where 93,000 people live in temporary shelters. NRC distributes food to more than 50.000 IDPs in South Darfur, and it depends on a continuous monitoring of the security situation, which enables staff to implement field operations without in the process risking their own lives.
Apr 11 2005 Norway Post - Sudan International Donor's Conference held in Oslo
- UN & Partners 2005 Work Plan - Sudan may face renewed civil war
Feb 2 2006 Controlled anarchy at Kalma camp in South Darfur, Sudan
: 35 year old Andrew Heavens (pictured below) is a journalist based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Meskel Square is his weblog about Ethiopia. Here are some photos Andrew took during a three-day press trip to El-Fashir in Northern Darfur and Nyala in Southern Darfur with the African Union.
Photo: African Union soldier controlling crowd at Kalma camp for internally displaced people near Nyala, southern Darfur, Sudan (Andrew Heavens www.meskelsquare.com/
Mar 2 2006 Oxfam Children in Kalma Camp say "ok" to staying healthy
Kalma is one of the largest camps in Darfur -- mile after mile of tightly packed shelters and rapidly constructed sanitation systems currently home to around 89,000 displaced people. As in most camps, the vast majority of residents are women and children. Two years ago there were just 19,000 people here, but rapid growth since then has created an abundance of health risks, to which children are the most vulnerable.:
Mar 11 2006 Norway's NRC concerned about UN aid cut in Darfur
Norewegian Refugee Council report today says UNHCR's announced cut in activities in Darfur is another clear testimony that the international community and Sudanese authorities lack the ability to create the necessary humanitarian space for humanitarian actors to assist the Sudanese civilian population. :
Mar 20 2006 South Darfur's Kalma and Seraif Camp - Rape; Attempted Rape; Risk of Death Penalty
Apr 3 2006 What's going on in Janana, South Darfur? 60 villages attacked by Janjaweed while Khartoum "safeguards" Norwegians from being in Sudan for next 2 weeks?
Sudanese authorities have refused to extend the mandate of the Norwegian NGO Norwegian Refugee Council which heads the main refugee camp in Darfur, sheltering some 100,000 people, the organisation announced on Monday. NRC is one of Norway's largest NGOs, with 1,300 people working for refugees and displaced persons.
Apr 3 2006 M&G - Norwegian NGO forced to leave Darfur refugee camp
Jens Mjaugedal, head of the organisation's international division, said in a statement,"We have not received an explanation why our presence is no longer desired."
Also, Jan Egeland has been asked by the Sudanese government to delay his visit to Darfur because it coincided with a Muslim holiday says the BBC. Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman Jamal Ibrahim said that in the light of the Danish cartoons row, it would not be sensitive or safe for a Norwegian such as Mr Egeland to visit.
AFP report says the Sudanese government denied barring Jan Egeland from Darfur, but instead asked his visit be delayed because of "popular sentiment". "Egeland was not barred from visiting Darfur but was only asked to postpone the visit due to the growing popular sentiment against the UN for its plans of deploying foreign forces in Darfur," information ministry official Bekri Mulah told AFP by telephone.
Jan Egeland told the BBC today the SLA helped provoke latest Janjaweed attacks in Janana. He said the Sudanese government, guerrilla forces and ethnic militia groups were all responsible for the current instability in Darfur. Egeland told the BBC he thought the Sudanese government did not want him to see the latest wave of "ethnic cleansing" against black Africans in South Darfur.
Apr 5 2006 Norway Post - Norway sends protest to Sudan
Today, Norway has sent a note to Sudan, expressing the Norwegian Government's concern over the development of the situation in the country, Norway Post reported. The note points to the working conditions for the humanitarian organisations, the Sudanese authorities lack of ability to protect its own population and Jan Egeland being denied entry to Sudan. Norway has been heavily involved in the Sudan, both with emergency aid and in connection with the peace process to end the civil war between North and Southern Sudan.:
Apr 6 2006 Norwegian Refugee Council hopes to return to South Darfur
On Monday NRC was informed by the NRC's agreement with Sudan on camp coordination in Kalma camp would not be renewed. NRC was also informed that its presence in South Darfur was not wanted, and NRC was asked to leave the state. No reasons were given by the authorities as to why NRC had to leave the state of South Darfur. While this is being resolved, NRC continues its humanitarian aid programmes in North and South Sudan.:
Photo from Sudan Watch archive Feb 2006: African Union soldier at Kalma Camp, South Darfur. Sign says: "WE NEED INTERNATIONAL FORCE TO PROTECT US"
Apr 13 2006 Difficult journey for displaced Dinkas in Darfur returning home to Sudan's Northern Bahr El Ghazal province
Concern is growing at the fate of thousands of displaced Dinka tribes people attempting to return to their homes in Sudan's Northern Bahr El Ghazal province from South Darfur, International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported 11 Apr 2006.
Photo Feb 9 2006 The Dinka's epic trek across South Sudan continues - 250,000 cattle have arrived so far in 34 cattle camps around Bor. (Sudan Watch archive):
May 8 2006 photo: Displaced Sudanese people hold up banners at Kalma Camp, 8 May 2006, where thousands demonstrated demanding international protection. The head of the African Union's executive said it was vital for the peace accord to end the civil war in the Sudanese region of Darfur to be implemented as soon as possible. (AFP/File/Jonah Fisher)
May 10 2006 South Darfur: UN evacuates Kalma Camp, after attack
May 11 2006 South Darfur's Kalma Camp residents attack AU police station and lynch to death AU interpreter
May 31 2006 Norwegian Refugee Council returns to Darfur after eviction
July 4 2006 Increased radicalisation of youth inside Kalma camp, South Darfur - Nighttime AU soldiers needed inside camp
An analyst said the security situation in nearby Kalma camp had worsened since the signing of the Darfur peace deal on 5 May, adding that the worst attacks were taking place at night.:
July 29 2006 Aid group attacked in Deleig camp, W Darfur - 17 women raped by militia outside Kalma camp
Aug 23 2006 Kalma Camp, S Darfur: Resuming AU firewood patrols is vital
More than 200 women have been sexually assaulted in the last five weeks alone around Darfur's largest displaced camp, Kalma, IRC reported today via Reuters. The situation is so dire that about 300 women convened a meeting in Kalma on Aug 7 to plead for more help from the outside world -- particularly from African Union troops mandated to protect civilians.:
Nov 21 2006 S Darfur State expels Norwegian Refugee Council - Darfur has the world's largest aid operation with 14,000 aid workers
- - -DEC 16 EVENT - AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL NORWAYUPDATE 9 Dec 2006:
Thanks to Andreas of The Oslo Blog and Amnesty International Norway
for picking up so quickly on above: see Oslo Blog
and news of the event on Dec 16 calling on Norway and other countries to work harder to find a solution to protect civilians in Darfur.
Please forgive slow or non response to emails, comments and links. Believe it or not, many of these posts take time to put together even without commentary, due to amount of background reading beforehand. Usually, I scour through a few hundred news reports on Sudan most days and have done so since April 2004. Unfortunately, this blogspot has no 'categories' and a poor search facility, so I have to rely on my own memory to marry related reports. Luckily from the outset of this blog, I've been pretty consistent with key words in title of each blog entry which enables me to search on a particular topic. Now must rest while keeping eye on latest news. More later. Peace. Thanks for the links and notes.