Expulsion of major NGOs and Darfur rebel leaders' call to refuse Sudan gov't aid prompt food and health fears
Britain and Ireland slam Sudan's "retaliation" aid ban. Oxfam and Save the Children said they would appeal against the decision to withdraw their licences for operations in Sudan.
The World Food Programme is distributing a two-month ration to 1.1 million displaced people who were served by Care, Solidarites, Action Against Hunger and Save the Children, which have all been expelled.
In Kalma camp in south Darfur, home to 90,000 people, camp leaders have refused to accept government fuel to run the borehole generators, and are trying to raise money to buy their own diesel.
Sources: the following three reports from Guardian, M&C, Sudan Tribune.
Report from Guardian.co.uk by Xan Rice in Nairobi, Tuesday, 24 March 2009 -
Warning as humanitarian crisis deepens in Darfur:
The humanitarian situation in Darfur is growing more precarious by the day following the expulsion of major aid agencies and a call from the main rebel group for displaced people to refuse any government assistance, NGO officials warned today.
The results of the joint UN-government mission to assess the gap in aid provision has not yet been published, but humanitarian workers say the supply of medicine, clean water and food has already been significantly affected, and could worsen in coming weeks.
Some 13 foreign agencies and six local organisations were kicked out of Darfur three weeks ago when the international criminal court issued an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir.
Numerous hospitals and clinics remain closed, while others are being run by local staff at a basic level. One agency today expressed concern at reports that "non-health professionals" in displaced persons' camps were using the medical equipment it was forced to leave behind.
The World Food Programme is distributing a two-month ration to 1.1 million displaced people who were served by Care, Solidarites, Action Against Hunger and Save the Children, which have all been expelled. But Rachid Jafaar, a WFP official, said this was "unsustainable" and that it could not guarantee all the affected people, at 140 different sites, would receive food.
The situation has been exacerbated by a surge in attacks on aid workers, which have severely restricted the activities of some of the agencies left on the ground. Three foreign Médecins Sans Frontières workers were kidnapped for several days by a militia supportive of Bashir two week ago, causing the agency to temporarily withdraw all its international staff from Darfur. A local employee of a Canadian aid agency was shot dead on Monday night.
Despite pleas from the international community, Sudan's government has refused to reconsider the decision to expel the aid groups, which it accuses of collaborating with the ICC. It insists that local relief agencies, assisted by Khartoum, can fill the gap.
Even if this were possible, the mistrust in Darfur means that much of the government aid will not reach the intended recipients. In Kalma camp in south Darfur, home to 90,000 people, camp leaders have refused to accept government fuel to run the borehole generators, and are trying to raise money to buy their own diesel.
"More people are now relying on hand pumps, but the water is not enough," said Alun McDonald, a spokesman for Oxfam, which helped manage the water supply in Kalma before it was expelled. "Things are getting very tense."
The refusal to allow the government to work in Kalma is based on a widespread suspicion within the camp that the government wants to shut it down. Other camps are also refusing government aid, a move backed by the Justice and Equality Movement, the most effective of Darfur's rebel groups, which said it was taking a "political stance" against the expulsion of the aid agencies.
"Our position is that our people should not accept any food, medicine or other assistance from government agencies," said Ahmed Hussein Adam, a JEM spokesman, speaking by telephone from Darfur.
"How do we know what they will put inside the food or drugs? Bashir cannot be both the oppresser and the helper."
The expelled agencies, which were responsible for more than half the total humanitarian effort in Darfur, where 4.7 million people receive aid, say fear among the remaining groups of being expelled has made gathering information extremely difficult. There are reports that the Sudanese health ministry has deployed in some locations where clinics have been closed, though the extent of the work remains unclear. An emergency meningitis vaccination campaign in Kalma, where several people have died of the disease, has yet to begin.
The International Rescue Committee said that some of its clinics have reopened, although at "drastically reduced hours", while water supply had nearly halved in one camp where it used to operate. Kurt Tjossem, the IRC's regional director, said the sanitation work it carried out had stopped altogether, heightening the risk of disease.
"If such services aren't replaced, this is going to create a huge health hazard, fast. The scale of the humanitarian need in Darfur is simply immense and this has to be recognised."
Photo: Sudanese refugees pass by the site of the looted compound of the expelled British aid group, Oxfam at Al Salam refugee camp, outside the Darfur town of al-Fasher, Sudan Saturday, March 21, 2009. Al Salam refugee camp leaders in Darfur say a dozen men broke into the warehouse of an expelled British aid group, Oxfam, stealing all its contents. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Report from M&C, March 05, 2009 London -
Britain, Ireland slam Sudan's "retaliation" aid ban
The British government Thursday criticised Sudan for retaliating against international aid workers following the arrest warrant issued against President Omar al-Bashir.
Aid organizations have warned that millions of lives would be put at risk by al-Bashir's decision to expel 10 humanitarian groups from the Darfur region, including Oxfam, Save the Children, Care International and Doctors Without Frontiers.
Deputy Labour Party leader Harriet Harman, standing in for Prime Minister Gordon Brown, told parliament that it was important that Sudan should not 'retaliate' against the agencies and refrain from 'escalating' the situation.
In Ireland, Foreign Affairs Minister Michael Martin urged the Sudanese government to reverse its decision which amounted to using 'extremely vulnerable people as pawns.'
Al-Bashir Wednesday became the first sitting head of state to be served with an arrest warrant for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, a move that has sparked anger, protests, and rallies of suppport in Sudan.
Oxfam and Save the Children said they would appeal against the decision to withdraw their licences for operations in Sudan.
Penny Lawrence, Oxfam's International Director, said the withdrawal of its registration would affect more than 600,000 people who were being given 'vital humanitarian and development aid, including clean water and sanitation on a daily basis.'
Of those, 400,000 were affected by the ongoing conflict in Darfur where people continued to flee from violence and the humanitarian needs remained 'enormous.'
Oxfam GB has operated in northern Sudan since 1983 and currently has 450 staff there, 90 per cent of whom are Sudanese.
Photo: A Sudanese refugee carrying a child walks over strewn documents at the site of the looted compound of the expelled British aid group, Oxfam at Al Salam refugee camp, Saturday, March 21, 2009. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Photo: Sudanese refugee children play with strewn documents at the site of the looted compound of the expelled British aid group, Oxfam at Al Salam refugee camp, Saturday, March 21, 2009. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Photo: Sudanese workers are seen at a feeding center of the expelled aid group, Action Contre La Faim, at Al Salam refugee camp, Saturday, March 21, 2009. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Article from Sudan Tribune Tuesday, 24 March 2009 by Wasil Ali - Darfur JEM say 4 IDP children die from malnutrition, criticize Qatar - excerpt:
March 23, 2009 (WASHINGTON) — The Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), warned today that Khartoum’s expulsion of humanitarian groups is taking a toll on the vulnerable population within the IDP camps in the war ravaged region. [...]
Aid groups say that it will be nearly impossible for the United Nations and the remaining aid groups to fill the void left by the evacuating workers.
JEM spokesperson Ahmed Hussein told Sudan Tribune that four children have died at the Shangil Tobaya camp in North Darfur over the last couple of days He disclosed their names as Esam Babiker Yacoub (3 years); Munir Mohamed Ibrahim (9 months); Maitha” Ahmed Musa (7 months); Abdel-Latif Hassan Gar El-Nabi (7 months).
“They died because of the severe shortage in food levels caused by departure of aid groups. There is also an alarming drop in water supplies which will increase the likelihood of mass disease outbreaks” Hussein said via satellite phone from an undisclosed location in Darfur.
The JEM official said that the foreign aid organizations that covered the camp were all evicted per Khartoum’s orders. He accused the government security agents of standing behind last week’s looting of a warehouse in Al-Salam camp owned by the expelled British Oxfam group in North Darfur.
Hussein said that the warehouse guard and another woman were killed during the armed attack.
“The government detained four camp leaders who notified UNAMID of the incident. All of them need to be released immediately and unconditionally” he said.
The JEM spokesperson warned that residents of IDP camps around EL-Geneina in South Darfur may soon be forced to cross borders into Chad in search for food.
“We will hold president Bashir personally responsible for the current situation and any deaths among our people that result from his decision” Hussein said angrily.
Asked about Darfur camp rejecting Sudanese aid groups from offering help, Hussein said that the IDP’s “made the right choice” saying that these are “undercover security agents
“A couple of those organizations are owned or administered by Bashir’s wives and relatives. The head of the Commission for Humanitarian Affairs Hasabu Abdel-Rahman is a security officer working on dismantling those IDP camps” Hussein claimed.
He also criticized the “complicity” of the UN Security Council (UNSC) in its response to expulsion of aid groups.
“The UNSC must intervene under a Chapter VII resolution to avert the imminent humanitarian disaster. Even if China and Russia block it the US and European Union (EU) must act unilaterally” the JEM official said.
“A No-Fly zone must be established over Darfur and we are prepared to secure the ground and provide safe corridors for humanitarian groups through which they can enter” he said.
But a US state department official told Sudan Tribune last week that there is nothing in the works with regard to a No-Fly Zone.
Hussein blasted the Arab League and African Union (AU) saying their positions on the aid group expulsion is “shameful”.
“They would not even utter a single word to condemn the decision by Sudan. How can they remain silent before an intentional campaign to starve the people of Darfur?” he questioned.
He reiterated JEM’s position on suspension of the Qatar hosted peace talks until Sudan rescinds its expulsion order.
“Make no mistake about it. There will be no return to the negotiating table until aid groups are allowed back. The expulsion decision in itself constitutes a violation of the agreement Khartoum signed with us in Doha which provides for facilitation of humanitarian flow” Hussein said.
“If Qatar wants to assert itself as an impartial peace broker they must publicly demand that Khartoum revokes their decision” he added.
Yesterday Qatar urged JEM to continue the peace talks it started last month with Khartoum despite the move against relief groups.
“They [Qataris] asked us to convey a message to the movement saying that we can protest the decision without halting the entire peace process” the head of JEM’s general congress Abu-Bakr Al-Gadi told Agence France press (AFP) yesterday.
Last month JEM and Khartoum signed a goodwill agreement in the Qatari capital, pledging to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the six-year conflict in the western Sudan region of Darfur but a date for the full blown talks has not been fixed yet.
Copy of Comment on this article...
The death of Sudanese children is a grave and disturbing matter, and the issue needs to be addressed before more Sudanese children are lost to malnutrition, which is so easily cureable, specially when the Government of Khartoum’s food banks are full of grains and bursting with several seasons worth of harvest.
What is even more disturbing, is when JEM use this grave matter as a weapon of war, 4 children have died from lack of food, but how many have you killed by your guns...who launched the offensive onslaught in Darfur, who chose to take up weapons to ask for basic services, when you could have taken on the government through peacful channels, JEM did, JEM started the fire on the people of Darfur, JEM used propoganada war tacticts, JEM is refusing to sign any peace agreement and JEM is responsible for escalating the crisis in Darfur.....
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by Saif El Hag
Namaa,You are looking at the elephan but keep spearing its shedow. JEM and the rest of arm struggle groups in Darfour are fighting for their rightful cause, which Khartoum has been denying them ever since.
What JEM and the rest armed groups are doing is a honourable stand against a tyranny of NCP. People like you have no sympathy for who are starving and will starve to death by the Khartoum action. If you are really a person who has a heart and concious you will be siding with the people of Darfour and you will shout down El Bahire and his regime as you did to Israel when the bombed Gaza.
But I think you belong to those groups in Sudan who call themselves ARABS, so let me tell you all loud and clear.. Arabs are the Worst and the most RACIST human species in the face of the world, this is a clear cristal fact,and all their stands and countinous support to their Arab cousins in Sudan.
Saif El Hag
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!!! 4 IDP children died !!
Can JEM get any lower than this ?? Now the repeat like stupid parrots what the british an americans say ’al bashir will be responsible for every death in darfur’ !! Do they wait for these people to tell them what to say.
Ocampo keeps blabbering on about 5000 people death every month in darfur now. So now its 5004?? Oh what a crisis !! quick get the UN and US and ICC involved !! Its all lies lies lies .. those who believe this bull are either ignorant or have a clear agenda against sudan and its people.
Its becoming clear to everyone that JEM have no real agenda or intention of peace. They are working for the french, british and americans trying to make as much trouble in darfur until all of sudan collapses or the government is toppled. Traitors !! Who only want power for themselves.
Al Nur sits in his hotel room in france getting fat and telling everyone when i am president i will do this and that. The JEM look for any excuse to get out of signing a peace treaty. The other sad groups in darfur are headed by greedy people that want power and to be recognized ! I feel sorry for the people of darfur if they expect these people to give them security, peace and prosperity.
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Sammani, I think you’re being extremly unfair here! the rebel groups might be taken advatage of by the West but that is no reason to deny the marginlization of the Darfur people by Khartoum elitists.
The Darfuris have a just cause, for too long the Khartoum government has denied many of its sons and daughters their due recognition in society especially after they fought along side their muslim brothers against the South for the sake of religion but now they relize they were simply tools being used by the khartoum elites.
I am not a fan of Khalil Ibrahim or Abdel Wahid but their people deserve better than what they have received.
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by tayeb M. Alhassan
Namaa, We have talked too much about Darfur crises suggesting solutions but these people either never read or never understand. Time is running taking more lives of innocent people in the refugee camps but they don’t care or rather they exploit the disaster to market for their own objectives servicing further agenda imposed on them.
Request for No-Fly-Zone, Petrol for food and other disgusting Iraqi war terms already expired and unusable in Sudan for the administration inverted those terms already gone and the new administration in the White House not interested and much wiser to turn history on reverse mode.
If they really don’t act as ((puppets)) to prolong Darforeans suffering in service of others they have to opt for negotiations whether in Qatar or any place they suggest however they have to put behind any personal interests and act with self-denial, goodwill and determination to reach crises solutions for the wefare of the real agonized people in Darfur.
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Tayeb! You make it sound like it is only the responsibility of JEM and SLM to prevent further deaths in Darfur but in fact the bigger responsibility falls on the government.
There is so much more they could do as well, if they always had the capabilities to feed the hungry, why in God’s name have they not helped the situation before? and why are they not speeding up the repatriation of IDPs to their homelands? etc etc etc....
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I don’t have any sympathy for the rebel leaders nor the NCP because they are all equally responsible for the deaths in Darfur but for JEM to encourage the IDPs to refuse food from Khartoum aid agncies because they’re spies sounds to me like irony.
As the main reason cited for the expulsion of the aid agncies was because the NCP accusses them of being western spies. However, if you’re hungry? does it really matter who feeds you or would you be more concerned with being fed!! I would’ve thought...
So JEM is guilty of starving IDPs as much as the NCP is guilty of playig the power game.
If you want peace, you negotiate not attach conditions before you negotiate. You can attach your conditions to a final settlement not for having a conversation about how to stop the deaths.