EU Presidency declaration on Sudan's expulsion of 13 NGOs - Sudan can't fill gaps from expelled aid groups: U.N. (Update 2)
Sudan expulsions of NGOs leave aid gap -UN
* U.N. chief might appeal directly to Sudanese president- - -
* U.N. says Sudan has seized some assets
* Bashir promises no more expulsions - U.N. officials (Adds diplomats on meetings with Bashir)
The Sudanese government is unable to take on the work of aid groups it has ordered out of the country's war-ravaged Darfur region, the top U.N. humanitarian affairs official said on Monday.
The African nation shut down 13 foreign and three local non-governmental organizations, saying they helped the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
U.N. humanitarian affairs chief John Holmes predicted a daunting challenge if the government in Khartoum didn't reverse its expulsion of the groups, which he said accounted for approximately half of the humanitarian aid capacity in Darfur.
"We do not, as the U.N. system, the NGOs do not, ... and the (Sudanese) government does not have the capacity to replace all the activities that have been going on, certainly not on any short- or medium-term basis," Holmes told reporters.
His remarks came several days after Sudanese U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem said his government would have no problem filling in any gaps in aid distribution created by the expulsions.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last week that U.N. humanitarian operations in Darfur, where some 4.7 million people rely on aid, would face "irrevocable damage" if the decision to shut down the aid groups was not reversed.
NO MORE EXPULSIONS?
U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe said Ban had not spoken with Bashir in the aftermath of the ICC announcement last week that it was charging him with crimes against humanity and war crimes stemming from the six-year conflict in Darfur.
Pro-government militias are accused of widespread atrocities in the restive region, where at least 200,000 people have been killed and some 2.7 million driven from their homes.
Holmes said the expulsions were retaliation for the ICC move and said Ban, who is on a trip to Haiti, had been attempting to resolve the crisis and might personally appeal to Bashir to permit their return.
U.N. officials told Reuters that the head of the U.N. mission in Sudan, Ashraf Qazi, spoke with Bashir over the weekend. They said the Sudanese leader had told Qazi that he would not back down over the expulsions.
But they added that the Sudanese leader had told Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa that no other humanitarian aid organizations would be ordered out of the country.
Holmes said that U.N. and NGO staff had faced harassment at the hands of Sudanese security forces, including "intimidatory behavior" and confiscation of vehicles, computers and other assets, and that U.N. officials had complained to Khartoum.
He added that the supply of food and water at refugee camps in Darfur would be more difficult in the coming days. (Additional reporting by Megan Davies; editing by Paul Simao)
March 9, 2009 (AP) report via International Herald Tribune -
UN to try to fill life-threatening gaps in Darfur -
UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations will try to fill life-threatening gaps left by Sudan's expulsion of more than half the aid workers in Darfur but cannot replace their critical activities helping millions of displaced people in the conflict-wracked region, the U.N. humanitarian chief said Monday.- - -
John Holmes said the Sudanese government also doesn't have the capacity to take over the work of 13 of the largest humanitarian organizations ordered to leave Darfur after the International Criminal Court ordered an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
While the U.N. continues to urge the Sudanese government to reverse its expulsion orders, Holmes said it is also looking "at where the most critical life-threatening gaps actually are or may appear in the near future" — particularly in providing water, sanitation, health care and food, and in the slightly longer term providing shelter.
He said the U.N. will start working with the government "to find out exactly where these gaps may lie."
According to the latest U.N. figures, 7,610 people worked for the 13 aid groups — 308 international staff members and 7,302 Sudanese, mainly from Darfur, he said. They represent more than 50 percent of the roughly 14,000 humanitarian workers from 85 organizations that had been working in Darfur, including about 1,000 international staff, he said.
"This is a decision ... which is likely to have a major impact on millions of people in Darfur, in particular, who are in need on a daily basis of life-saving humanitarian assistance," Holmes said.
Last week, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the relief agencies are key to maintaining a lifeline to 4.7 million people in Darfur. Holmes' deputy, Catherine Bragg, added that the loss of the 13 NGOs would mean "1.1 million people will be without food aid, 1.1 million will be without health care, and over 1 million will be without potable water."
Holmes said the U.N. has been asking the Sudanese "for justification for the action and we haven't had any which would seem to us to be satisfactory."
"I think it's reasonably clear this was a political response to a decision which has got nothing to do with the U.N. and nothing to do with the NGOs," he said.
He added that Ban may discuss the expulsions with al-Bashir "when it's most likely to produce the right effect."
The Sudanese government's humanitarian agency said it has agreed with U.N. humanitarian officials to send a "joint technical assessment mission" to evaluate the situation in Darfur following the expulsion of the 13 aid groups. The joint team will travel to Darfur on Wednesday, the agency said.
As examples of critical gaps that need to be filled, Holmes said, the U.N. is particularly concerned about a meningitis outbreak in the Nertiti camp for 33,000 displaced people in West Darfur and a possible meningitis outbreak in Kalma camp, which houses over 100,000 people in South Darfur, because the NGOs providing medical care have been expelled and a large-scale vaccination program is needed.
There is also a problem with clean water for the Kalma camp because Oxfam, which has been expelled, maintained the pumping system and provided the fuel to run it, he said.
"It may not affect water delivery today, but it certainly will within a few days if the maintenance is not done, if the fuel is not provided," he said.
Holmes, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said he discussed the expulsions on Monday with representatives of U.N. agencies, the 13 non-governmental organizations ordered to leave, and some of the NGOs allowed to remain in Darfur.
The United Nations is "very concerned about the way the decision has been implemented on the ground," he said.
Assets of international NGOs have been confiscated including vehicles and computers, vital data for assistance to beneficiaries and food and non-food items, he said. There also have been cases of "intimidatory behavior" by some Sudanese officials towards NGO staff facing expulsion, he said.
Holmes said one or two warehouses containing food from the U.N. World Food Program which was going to be distributed by NGOs were also quickly seized by local Sudanese authorities. "We have been assured that these assets will be returned to us quickly," he said.
March 9, 2009 - Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union following the Government of Sudan’s decision to expel 13 Non-Government Organisations - via eu2009.cz:
The EU believes that the continued delivery of humanitarian assistance in Sudan is of the highest importance to save lives and is crucial in creating a conducive environment for the implementation of all peace processes in Sudan, which the EU will continue to support strongly.- - -
The EU is therefore deeply concerned by the Government of Sudan’s decision to expel 13 international humanitarian NGOs from Sudan and to revoke the licenses of three local NGOs. This decision is a direct and immediate threat to the continuity of international humanitarian assistance in Darfur and damages aid operations in the rest of Northern Sudan. These NGOs provide a vital service to some millions of vulnerable Sudanese civilians, guided by the principles of human rights and international humanitarian law.
The EU calls upon to the Government of Sudan to urgently reconsider their decision, and ensure that humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable people in Sudan be continuously guaranteed.
Zuzana Opletalová, porte-parole du ministère des Affaires étrangères
tél. : +420 224 182 426, GSM : +420 724 034 154; e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Dernière mise à jour : 9.3.2009 19:27
Expulsion of NGOs won't affect humanitarian situation, Sudan says - Sudan can't fill gaps from expelled aid groups, U.N. says
See Sudan Watch
Monday, March 09, 2009:
Sudan's HAC says explusion of NGOs from Darfur will not be reconsidered and won't affect humanitarian situation. Expulsion of NGOs won't affect humanitarian situation, Sudan says
Sudan can't fill gaps from expelled aid groups: U.N. - The Sudanese government lacks sufficient capacity to do the work of the aid groups it has ordered out of the country's war-ravaged Darfur region, the top U.N. humanitarian affairs official said on Monday.