With the recent expulsion of 13 aid
agencies from Sudan, it's estimated that as many as a million people may be at
risk of not getting enough food, water and medical care. The Sudanese
government ordered the expulsions after the International Criminal Court issued
an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir, accusing him of war crimes and
crimes against humanity in Darfur.
International Rescue Committee is one of NGOs ordered out. Kurt Tjossemis the IRC's regional director for the
Horn and East Africa. From Nairobi, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service
reporter Joe De Capua about the effects of the expulsions on Darfur.
think it's a critical time. Nothing is emanating yet on the ground, but I think
that was due to agencies like our own (being) able to pre-position some stocks,
say medical supplies, in the clinics that we operate. For example…in Kalma
camp, where there's more than 90,000 displaced population…we were able to
pre-position drugs, medical supplies for a period of about a month. Likewise,
we were able to also pre-position fuel in locations where we provide water.
However, that was maximum two weeks," he says.
is need to operate pumps at water boreholes. Some of the other agencies expelled
were not able to pre-position fuel supplies for the pumps. However, Tjossem
says, "I know that other agencies on the ground are trying to fill the gaps by
supplying fuel for boreholes.… Although staff do tell us that there are a
couple of camps where there is no water and local vendors have started to
provide water that the displaced population is paying for."
warns, though, it may be just a short-term solution and that the water from
local vendors may not be treated to make it safe for drinking. That could
result in health problems in the coming weeks.
the expulsion of 13 aid agencies, how many are left? The IRC regional director
says, "There's a pretty large number of agencies. I think the number was
between 80 and 100. The difference though is that the 13 that were expelled are
the largest and basically have provided 60 percent of the humanitarian
assistance across Darfur. So, I think it will be a substantial impact. I think
in the short term the government, the UN agencies and the remaining NGOs…are
planning some sort of…assistance so that the impact is not as grave as it could
water is no longer available in certain locations or camps, the displaced may
be forced to re-locate.
International Rescue Committee has been operating programs in Sudan for nearly
30 years. These include helping local NGOs and community-based organizations
run healthcare, water and livelihood programs. In Darfur, the IRC concentrates
on healthcare services at some of the large camps for the displaced, as well as
water, sanitation and education projects. "Altogether, we support roughly
650,000 people," says Tjossem.
He says that if the ban on the NGOs is
lifted soon, the IRC may be able to resume operations fairly quickly. The
longer the ban is in effect, the more difficult it becomes.