SUDAN WATCH: More than 2.5 million people will be affected by Sudan gov't expulsion of NGOs in Darfur

Thursday, March 05, 2009

More than 2.5 million people will be affected by Sudan gov't expulsion of NGOs in Darfur

Sudan's Vice-President, Ali Osman Taha, stressed that the Government of National Unity will not cooperate with the ICC.

Speaking to Sudan Radio Service in Juba on Thursday, a day after Sudan ordered the expulsion of 10 international organizations, an SPLM spokesperson described the decision taken by the NCP as "unfortunate".

More than 2.5 million people will be affected by Sudan government's expulsion of international NGOs in Darfur.

The names of the thirteen NGOs ordered to leave Sudan appear to be: Oxfam GB, Care, MSF-Holland, Mercy Corps, Save the Children UK, Norwegian Refugee Council, International Rescue Committee, Action Contre La Faim, Solidarities, CHF International, Save the Children USA, PADCO, MSF-France.

Here is a copy of some of today's news from Sudan Radio Service:

5 March - (Khartoum) - President Al-Bashir says the Government of National Unity will act responsibly following the decision by the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant against him.

Addressing an emergency meeting of the council of ministers in Khartoum on Thursday, al-Bashir called the ICC decision the latest in a series of conspiracies against Sudan.

Al-Bashir declared that Sudan would act responsibly if attempts were made to ‘destabilize’ the country.

[al-Bashir – Arabic]:” As a government, we will react as a responsible government. We will not behave emotionally or respond negatively. However, we will act responsibly but deal severely with anybody who tries to destabilize the security of the country”.

After the meeting, President al-Bashir went to address a crowd of one million demonstrators who had gathered to condemn the ICC decision.

[Sound of the crowd cheering: ”We will never go down on our knees and bow to the Americans”]

Al-Bashir told the demonstrators that the arrest warrant issued by the ICC is an attempt at colonization.

[Al-Bashir 3 –Arabic] :”On your behalf, we are sending this call to the free people in the third world, Latin America, Africa, the Arab world, Asia and to the free people of Europe. This decision is a new colonization and an attempt to dominant us again, because they want to steal our resources.”

Al-Bashir also accused some of the anti-government organizations in Darfur of benefiting from the conflict and accused them of obstructing the peace process in Darfur.

Al-Bashir also announced the expulsion of ten NGOs.

[Al-Bashir ]:”We say to our guests from the voluntary NGOs, our guests from the diplomatic missions, that if you follow the serious way, and you respect your selves, we will hold you over our heads, otherwise those who step out of line should only blame themselves.

Today we chased out ten foreign organizations, among them Americans and British because all of them are being used as tools by other organizations, our guests should respect us, or we will humiliate them.”

The ten foreign NGOs concerned by the expulsion are: Oxfam, Care, MSF-Holland, and Mercy Corps, Save the Children, the Norwegian Refugee Council, the International Rescue Committee, Action Contre La Faim, Solidarities, and CHF International.
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5 March - (Oxford) - Ali McDonald is a spokesperson for Oxfam, one of the NGOs which are threatened with expulsion.

[McDonald]: “We received a letter yesterday evening from the government saying that our registration for northern Sudan was being revoked. There were no details on why, or any deadline for when to leave the country by and we are currently trying to appeal against the decision and we so hope that it can be reversed and we can stay operating in Sudan. However, at the moment it is very unclear. All our programs are currently suspended; many of our international staff are now being moved to Khartoum. So for Oxfam, this will affect about 600,000 people in terms of they won’t be receiving the assistance that they need.”

McDonald went on to explain Oxfam’s mission in Sudan.

[McDonald]: “We don’t have links to institutions like the ICC, our concern is the humanitarian needs and the development needs in Sudan. By reacting in this way, by expelling aid agencies, the people that the government of Sudan is harming most are the Sudanese people who need our help.”

That was Ali McDonald, spokesperson for Oxfam International, speaking to Sudan Radio Service from Nairobi.
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5 March - (London) - More than 2.5 million people will be affected by the government’s directive to expel 10 non-governmental organizations operating in Darfur.

Gill Lusk is an associate editor of Africa Confidential. Sudan Radio Service asked her to evaluate the consequences of the expulsion for the people receiving aid:

[Gill Lusk]: “It’s very serious, it would affect of course the people of Darfur because there are 2.5 million people roughly in the displaced peoples‘ camps in Darfur and they are getting a lot of food, medical aid, other support from those agencies and foreign aid agencies. They’ve also resorted to Sudanese aid agencies based in Khartoum, both of which are seen as fighting for human rights in Sudan and they’ve both been closed down.”

Lusk urges the foreign countries operating in Sudan to protect and continue to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Darfur.

[Gill Lusk]: “I think it would be very important for the international community or other governments whether they would be western or African, Asian, China, all involved in Sudan through the oil to try and protect people, especially in Darfur. Because the Sudan government is expected to attack and it’s already doing that through the NGOs.”

That was Gill Lusk, associate editor of Africa Confidential, speaking to Sudan Radio Service from London.
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5 March - (Eastern Chad) - Over 30,000 refugees from Darfur in eastern Chad are celebrating after the ICC announcement concerning President Omar al-Bashir.

The head of the Humanitarian Committee in the Justice and Equality Movement anti-government group told Sudan Radio Service on Thursday that they are happy with the ICC announcement.

[Adin Mohammed Mahim]: “We are celebrating the arrest warrant issued by the ICC against President al-Bashir. In fact, all the people and all the refugees are very happy. All the widows, orphans and the marginalized. We are gathering and hoping that the ICC will arrest President Omar al-Bashir and cut his neck.”

The director general of a school for refugees, in eastern Chad, Hamid Taj el-Din Yahya, was present at the event.

[Hamid Taj el-Din]: ”We are organizing this celebration and you can hear the cheering and words of the supporters of this decision by the ICC. All of us in this camp, and there are about 35,000 Sudanese refugees here, are celebrating this event.”

Another refugee, Husna Omer Mohamed, describes her feelings towards al-Bashir.

Husna Omer]: “President al-Bashir, we are very happy today for the arrest warrant. We hope that God will cut your neck; you have killed our mothers, fathers, daughters, uncles. You have thrown us in the desert and valleys.”
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5 March - (Paris) - Following the ICC decision on Wednesday, Sudan Radio Service spoke to Roland Marchal, a Paris-based political analyst. He says that issuing the arrest warrant will not damage the peace process in Sudan.

[Roland Marchal]: “ICC supporters have a point when they underline that actually the ICC is not destroying, or freezing or weakening the peace process because actually there is no peace process going on. And despite this 1593 resolution, despite the request by Mr. Ocampo to indict President al-Bashir in July last year, we haven’t witnessed any significant progress in the resolution of the Darfur conflict, so we have to take this into account in our own assessment of the situation.”

[SRS]: Why do you think that the judges chose not to include the charge of genocide?

[Roland Marchal]: “For quite sometime there has been a discussion on whether the claim for genocide could be supported by evidence. The issue again is not a political one, it is a legal one and so the question is whether Ocampo was able to supply the court with hard evidence on genocide cases. And so beyond the Sudan Darfur case, there has been an on-going debate on whether the use of the term genocide has become a bit too relaxed by activists and sometimes even lawyers and that may not help the understanding of conflicts.”

That was Roland Marchal, a political analyst and expert on Sudanese affairs, speaking to Sudan Radio Service from Paris.
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5 March - (Khartoum) - The Government of National Unity says it rejects the decision by the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for President al-Bashir.

In a press conference after the announcement on Wednesday, the first Vice-President, Ali Osman Taha, stressed that the Government of National Unity will not cooperate with the ICC.

[Osman Taha]: “In its meeting held on Wednesday, the presidency decided to completely reject the arrest warrant against President Omar al-Bashir and emphasizes that the government of Sudan refuses to cooperate with the decision or to respond to it in any case.”

The ICC indicted al-Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity which include murder, rape and torture.
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5 March - (Juba) - In response to the ICC’s decision to issue an arrest warrant for President al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, the SPLM is urging the NCP to avoid confrontation with the international community.

Speaking to Sudan Radio Service in Juba on Thursday, a day after Sudan ordered the expulsion of 10 international organizations, the SPLM spokesperson described the decision taken by the NCP as "unfortunate".

[Yien Mathew Chol]: “The SPLM regret that such humanitarian NGOs are chased out of the country. This is not a bilateral position taken by the partners. We have not discussed such issues with out partners, it is the personal behavior of the NCP and our advice as SPLM remains that the issue should be approached with restraint and wisdom and so we regret the government's attitude for that reason.”

He said that issuing the arrest warrant should not be seen as a conspiracy but an opportunity to bring peace, security and stability in the country.

Yien said the SPLM maintains its earlier position regarding the ICC saying the issue is a legal one and the only way to deal with it is to engage with ICC legally and cooperate with the international community. He urged the NCP to avoid confrontation with the court.
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Charles Haskins
News Programming Advisor
Sudan Radio Service (SRS)
a project of Education Development Center
T: +254 715 05 2924 or +254 (20) 387 0906
F: +254 (20) 387 6520

Listen to SRS on the radio or on the web at www.sudanradio.org

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