Aid agencies expelled from Darfur

The Takeaway

A refugee in Darfur (Photo: Gerald Martone/The IRC)

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At least thirteen aid agencies have been kicked out of Darfur, Sudan this week. That's after the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes in the region.

The United Nations Deputy Humanitarian Chief Catherine Bragg had this to say: "While we are looking into contingency planning to fill the gaps left by these expulsions, it will be extremely challenging for the remaining humanitarian organizations and the government of Sudan to fill the operating gap, and we do not see how these gaps can be fully covered.

"The Takeaway" talks to Nick Grono, Deputy President for Operations at the International Crisis Group; and David Clatworthy, Coordinator of Water and Sanitation for the International Rescue Committee, one of the aid agencies expelled from Darfur.

Grono on the political reaction in Sudan and the international community to al-Bashir's conviction: "The political reactions in Sudan have been mixed ... in the camps, many of the people who have been ... victims of the conflict have welcomed the decision of the International Criminal Court because they see that there's a possibility that President Bashir will be held accountable for the crimes that have been committed against them. The international community has been fairly cautious in its response, I think waiting to see how some of this plays out."

Clatworthy says of the expulsions of aid agencies from Darfur: "The impact on the ground is really very large indeed, we've had as you know, thirteen agencies ... had their licenses revoked, and those include really most of the large NGOs working in Darfur and working in north Sudan. Certainly our programs covered 650,000 people in Darfur and an even a larger number in north and east Sudan, and it's going to have a very big impact on those people ...".

According to Grono, President Bashir is holding his citizens hostage: "He's essentially trying to hold more than a million civilians, his most vulnerable citizens, hostage in his confrontation with the international community. And I think ... what I hope we'll see is that the allies of Sudan's, which is the Arab League and African Union States and China working frantically behind the scenes to encourage him to step back from the brink."

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