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Africa

Famine relief prospects dire after NGO expulsion, says UN

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Latest update : 2009-03-25

The UN and other NGOs have said that Sudan is unequipped to provide relief for the 1.1 million Sudanese who were dependent on foreign relief aid. NGOs were expelled by President Omar al-Bashir after the ICC issued an arrest warrant on him.

REUTERS - Attempts by Sudan’s government to fill in gaps in humanitarian assistance in Darfur caused by the recent expulsion of 13 foreign aid groups are insufficient, the U.N. humanitarian chief said on Tuesday.

 

“These are band-aid solutions, not long-term solutions,” U.N. Under-Secretary-General John Holmes told a news conference on the results of an assessment of the situation in Sudan’s conflict-torn Darfur region carried out jointly by the United Nations and the Sudanese government.

 

To feed the hungry in Darfur, “we need to find some proper partners for the WFP (World Food Program) if the decision is not reversed,” he said, adding that the expulsion of aid groups “seems to us a reckless act”.

 

Sudan ordered the aid agencies out of Darfur after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir earlier this month over alleged war crimes in the western region. Sudan, which does not recognize the ICC, rejects the charge.

 

A summary of the assessment, co-signed by U.N. and Sudanese officials, said four of the expelled non-governmental organizations (NGOs) served some 1.1 million people.

 

Among the groups expelled were CARE, Save the Children-US, Solidarities and Action Contre La Faim. Those four also managed feeding programs for children and pregnant and lactating mothers at dozens of special centers. The joint assessment says the services at those centers have been interrupted.

 

Some 4.7 million people rely on humanitarian aid in Darfur, where the United Nations runs its largest aid operation in the world with the help of NGOs. Sudan’s U.N. envoy Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem has said that Sudanese groups have been filling the gaps and there is no problem with aid distribution.

 

Holmes disagreed, saying, “If you read the report itself, it demonstrates that there are indeed gaps, and this is an agreed assessment. So I think the Sudanese government are agreeing that those gaps are there.”

 

Water shortages

 

The assessment summary did not directly criticize the government, though it indicated there were problems with aid delivery in Darfur that could worsen in the coming months.

 

Stripped of some of its key aid distributors, the WFP, which is the principle U.N. food aid provider in humanitarian crises, has been distributing aid itself with the help of local food committees, the summary said.

 

“By the beginning of May, as the hunger gap approaches, the World Food Program requires new and experienced partners to carry out food distributions for over one million people in need in Darfur,” it said.

 

There were no immediate water-related emergencies, the assessment said, though “major water shortages could develop within two to four weeks, as from March 18, if fuel, incentives and spare parts are not continuously provided.”

 

It added that the Sudanese government had committed itself to supporting the delivery of water and provision of health and nutritional care through the end of the year.
 

Date created : 2009-03-25

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