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Posts Tagged ‘Aid’

UNITED NATIONS — The humanitarian situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate in the wake of Sudan’s decision to expel major foreign aid organizations from the country, a top United Nations official told the Security Council on Friday, with a majority of Council members sharply criticizing Khartoum for refusing to reverse its edict.

Critical areas of concern in Darfur include distribution of adequate food, water and medical care, as well as the safety of United Nations personnel and humanitarian workers who have been subject to stepped-up attacks, said the official, Rashid Khalikov, the director in New York for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“Our ability to help the people of Darfur and northern Sudan has been seriously compromised,” he said. “The current atmosphere of fear and uncertainty facing all aid organizations is affecting the assistance available to the people of Darfur.”

Western ambassadors uniformly criticized Sudan for its decision to expel 13 foreign aid organizations and close three local ones, which the country did after the International Criminal Court in The Hague announced more than two weeks ago that it was indicting President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on war crimes charges.

Expressions of concern about the fate of about four million civilians in Darfur were universal from all 15 members of the Council. Even friends and neighbors of Sudan, like China, Uganda and Libya, which support a deferral of the court’s indictment, expressed concern about the impact of the expulsions.

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LA Times, Edmund Sanders, March 17, 2009

Reporting from Zam Zam Camp, Sudan — Feverish and dehydrated since fleeing to this overcrowded displacement camp last month, 2-year-old Manahel Abakar was supposed to be one the beneficiaries of the International Criminal Court effort to bring justice to Darfur.

Instead she became one of its unintended casualties.

The little girl died last week on a straw mat under the baking sun, surrounded by anxious family members helpless to save her. Their only shelter is a threadbare blanket, sagging over broken tree branches.

The situation at the Zam Zam camp, hard even in the best of times, is more desperate because the aid groups that deliver emergency food, water and healthcare were shut down this month by Sudan’s government in retaliation after the ICC issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir.

“We are innocent,” said Khatar Yusuf, 38, a father of four who lives in the camp, outside El Fasher in Northern Darfur. “We’re not political. But now it’s our children who are sick and dying. No one is taking care of them.”

International aid groups and the United Nations are scrambling to fill the gaps left by the expulsion of the 13 foreign aid groups, including several of the largest providers of food, clean water, education and healthcare to Darfur’s displacement camps.

Most are cautiously optimistic that they can avert the near-term catastrophe that would come with the lack of essentials such as food and water. The World Food Program has begun an emergency distribution of a two-month supply to the most affected areas. UNICEF is focusing on delivering extra fuel to run about three dozen crucial water stations.

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By Louis Charbonneau, Reuters, 16 March 2009

UNITED NATIONS, March 16 (Reuters) – A humanitarian aid group expelled by Sudan said on Monday it had considered cooperating with the International Criminal Court investigation of crimes in Darfur but promptly dismissed the idea.

The International Rescue Committee is one of 13 foreign humanitarian non-governmental organizations that were expelled by Sudan’s government for allegedly cooperating with the court in its investigation of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Since 2003 the United Nations has been using NGOs as part of a massive humanitarian aid effort it oversees for internally displaced persons in Sudan’s conflict-torn western Darfur region. It provides food and other aid for some 4.7 million people and says its operations are neutral and impartial.

The United Nations has said it is not aware of any cooperation between NGOs and the court, while the NGOs say they have refused to assist the ICC because it would undermine their humanitarian goals.

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By Khaled Abdelaziz and Andrew Heavens, Reuters, 16 March 2009

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan’s president said on Monday he wanted foreign aid groups to stop distributing aid in Sudan within a year, in an escalation in the country’s defiant response to an international war crimes warrant against him.

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir expelled 13 international aid groups this month, accusing them of helping the International Criminal Court, which issued an arrest warrant against him, accusing him of orchestrating atrocities in Darfur. Aid groups deny working with the court.

In an emotional speech to thousands of soldiers and police, Bashir said he had ordered Sudanese aid groups to take over the distribution of all relief inside the country — a move that could freeze the work of more than 70 foreign organizations still operating in Darfur and other strife-torn areas.

If carried out, the order will also create a dilemma for international donors, including the governments of the United States and Britain, over whether they will be able to continue to pour millions into projects across the underdeveloped country without full control over how their aid is distributed.

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Workers Freed in Darfur

March.14.2009

(CNN) — The four Doctors Without Borders staffers abducted earlier this week in Sudan’s Darfur region have been “safely released,” the group said on Saturday.

Members of the humanitarian group Medecins San Frontieres are greeted at the airport after their release.

Members of the humanitarian group Medecins San Frontieres are greeted at the airport after their release.

Canadian nurse Laura Archer, Italian doctor Mauro D’Ascanio, French coordinator Raphael Meunier and Sudanese watchman Sharif Mohamadin were abducted Wednesday.

They appeared Saturday on Sudanese TV following their release, and the TV news said they had arrived in the city of El-Fasher. They “appear to be OK” and were headed to the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, the aid group said.

Five people were taken in Serif Umra in north Darfur. However, one of them, a Sudanese staffer, was freed earlier. The four work for the Belgian section of Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medicins Sans Frontieres.

“We are incredibly relieved that our colleagues are safe and in good health,” said Christopher Stokes, general director of the Belgian section of MSF.

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VOA News, 14 March 2009

Sudanese officials say three foreign aid workers who were kidnapped in Darfur earlier this week will be freed shortly.

Earlier reports said the Canadian nurse, Italian doctor and French coordinator had already been released.  Sudanese staff who were with the trio at the time of their abduction have been freed.

Unidentified gunmen kidnapped the employees of the Belgian branch of Doctors Without Borders on Wednesday near El-Fasher, in North Darfur state.  Sudanese authorities have blamed bandits.

Read more. Also see article from the AP.

Earlier articles, like this one from the LA Times, reported a statement from the Italian Foregin Minister that the workers were freed, but this has been now contradicted.

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By Marc Gustafson, 09 March 2009

Last week, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber chose not to include genocide in the arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir. Writers from ICC Observers raised an important question in response to the ICC’s decision: what does this mean for activist groups who are focused on Darfur? The answer to this question depends on the type of activist group one is referring to. Most American activist groups have typically advocated for either military intervention in Darfur or an increase in peace-keeping troops. To these activists, using the word “genocide” is central to their campaign of attracting followers and to their lobbying efforts. International consensus against using the word genocide, however, is quickly building, which may make the activists want to reevaluate the use of the word and their strategy.

It is unlikely, however, that the ICC’s decision will check the activist campaign’s momentum or diminish its effectiveness. In fact, the opposite may be true. If Bashir continues to block the lifeline of humanitarian aid to the refugee camps in Darfur, as he announced he would do just days ago, then the case for military intervention in Darfur may become more potent. Casualty rates will rise and the international community will not want to stand idly by. Unlike the first few years of the conflict, outsiders now have a window into what is happening in Darfur. United Nations and African Union monitors are stationed in every region of Darfur and they are publishing their observations monthly. If casualty rates rise again, the world will know right away and the activist campaigns will likely be reenergized.

In Europe, the activist movement is quite different. European activists have been more reluctant to use the word “genocide”, focusing instead on providing aid to refugees rather than calling for military intervention or peace-keeping. These groups will probably be the most immediately affected by last week’s decision because they will have fewer options for sending aid to Darfur. Most of the humanitarian aid could get rerouted to Chad. In this case, thousands more refugees may start pouring across the border in search of aid, causing the European activist campaigns to strengthen.

It is anyone’s guess what will happen next, but if Bashir continues to isolate the displaced refugees from humanitarian assistance, casualty rates will climb quickly, thus strengthening the case for military intervention and perhaps causing the charges of genocide to be revisited by the ICC. Both of these changes and the likely influx of refugees into Chad would revitalize both the American and European activist campaigns.

Marc Gustafson is reading for an MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford.

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