SUDAN WATCH: Norwegian Refugee Council leaves Sudan - Mercy Corps suspends work in Darfur, western Sudan

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Norwegian Refugee Council leaves Sudan - Mercy Corps suspends work in Darfur, western Sudan

Press Release from Mercy Corps March 4, 2009
Mercy Corps Suspends Work in Darfur
On Wednesday, March 4, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued a warrant for the arrest of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan for crimes against humanity in the Darfur region of Sudan.

According to media reports, the Government of Sudan revoked the registration of several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) shortly after the ICC's announcement. Mercy Corps' registration was revoked. The Government did not offer a reason for this decision.

As a result, Mercy Corps will halt programs in Darfur and Khartoum effective immediately to begin implementing the closeout process as outlined by the government.

Mercy Corps deeply regrets the decision of the Sudanese government to revoke our registration. The agency remains committed to working with the government to provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance to the people of Darfur, and recovery and development programming that is critical to maintaining the fragile peace in other areas of northern Sudan. Mercy Corps intends to appeal this decision under Sudanese law.

"This is a devastating blow to the many people of Sudan who rely upon NGOs for both immediate survival, and help in building more prosperous and stable futures for their families," says Mercy Corps President Nancy Lindborg. "We sincerely hope that this decision will be reversed so we can get back to the critical business of saving and improving lives."

Mercy Corps has been operating in Sudan for five years. The country has been torn apart by two conflicts — a 21-year civil war that ended in 2005 and the ongoing violence in Darfur — and many of its people remain displaced and living in desperate poverty.

In the Darfur region, Mercy Corps provides lifesaving services to 200,000 people who have been forced from their homes by violence and are living in displacement camps. These services include keeping camps clean, training health promoters, building and supplying schools, and providing skills training to women and other vulnerable people.

Mercy Corps takes steps to ensure that our programs are not used to further any particular political or religious agenda. We are completely independent of, and have no position on, the actions of the International Criminal Court.
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News report from The Norway Post 5 March 2009:
Norwegian Refugee Council leaves Sudan
The Norwegian Refugee Council is one of the international humanitarian aid organisations which have been ordered to leave Sudan within 24 hours, after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudan’s President.

Sudanese authorities have confiscated equipment and have withdrawn the oganisation's permit to operate in Sudan, according to NRK.

Sudan has ordered altogether 10 aid organisations to leave the country after the arrest warrant was issued. (NRK) Rolleiv Solholm
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From Norwegian Refugee Council by Magnus Wright Jacobsen 5 March 2009:
NRC leaves Sudan
NRC is one of the humanitarian organisations which were told to leave Sudan; hours after The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant on the country’s president.

Wednesday the Sudanese government made it clear that ten international humanitarian organisation no longer had permission to stay in the country. This happened few hours after The International Criminal Court (ICC) in Haag issued an arrest warrant on the Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.

- Our permission to operate in Sudan is now cancelled. That is a surprise and a disappointment. We will address an appeal to the government to make them reverse this decision, said Elisabeth Rasmusson Secretary General in NRC.

NRC and the other humanitarian organisations have to leave the country within 24 hours. NRC’s international employees will leave the capital Khartoum and Kordofan by the end of the day. All NRC assets will be confiscated.

- We want to stay in Sudan. We are doing an important work in the country. After the peace agreement in 2005, IDPs have begun their return to their homes. NRC is highly involved assisting the returnees to start a normal life. This process requires a lot of assistance, said Rasmusson.


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