One Month After the Warrant

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April 4th marks one month since Omar al-Bashir, the wanted president of Sudan, suspended the licenses of 13 international aid groups and 3 local ones, forcing them to abandon their work in Darfur.

Right now, the UN continues to struggle to deliver aid throughout Darfur and has been forced into transporting and distributing goods via the peacekeeping troops to recoup the losses of 50% of aid forces.  The Government of Sudan (GoS) has said it will fill the aid gaps.

It can’t.

Many reports noted a “deteriorating” situation during March, as a result of the aid expulsion.  Eric Reeves reasserts the UN and humanitarian reports – “there is simply no replacement available for the accumulated Darfur-honed knowledge and skills of the expelled organizations.”

A recent report from the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance provides the following numbers for Darfuris affected by the aid expulsion: 1.5 million without adequate health care, 1.16 million suffering from reduced water and hygiene facilities, and 1.1 million with reduced access to food.  The rainy season is approaching, undoubtedly bringing with it epidemics of malaria and cholera, not accounting for outbreaks of disease that already exist in camps.  On top of this is the worry that not enough rain will come, and Darfur will face a worsening drought . And, with less and less fuel for water pumps being delivered every day, the camps may face serious shortages of drinking water.

President Obama has risen to the cries of activists and has recognized that restoring the aid groups is paramount to policy in Darfur.  The White House Office of the Press Secretary released the P resident’s remarks after a meeting with US Special Envoy Scott Gration and Sudan advocates this week, putting weight on the necessity of “[figuring] out a mechanism to get those NGOs back in place,” reversing the expulsion, or somehow avoiding the impending humanitarian crisis.  This statement echoed the tone of his meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on March 10th, and highlights the President’s willingness to lead the international community against the travesties in Darfur.

The dire humanitarian crisis in Darfur even attracted the attention of the Arab League summit early this week.

Though the League quickly issued a statement denouncing the ICC warrant, one of the most pressing issues addressed at the summit was the extreme humanitarian decline in and continued marginalization of Darfur.  Some nations recognized the importance of allowing human rights in Darfur to go unhindered, with some providing fierce criticisms of Sudan’s actions against Darfur.  Queen Noor of Jordan called the Arab League’s support for Bashir “perverse.”  Though she was empathetic in her juxtaposition of reaction to Darfur of that to Gaza and Lebanon, she said that if western reaction to the latter two had been different, the League wouldn’t feel so compelled to support Bashir despite the “obscenity” of Khartoum’s actions against the Darfuris.  She was stern in her review of the Arab world’s double-standard toward the issue, echoing Ban Ki-Moon’s summit-opening statements.

In spite of all this, it has been recognized that restoring the aid groups is paramount to policy in Darfur.  The White House Office of the Press Secretary released the president’s remarks on a meeting with US Special Envoy Scott Gration and Sudan advocates this week, putting weight on the necessity of “[figuring] out a mechanism to get those NGOs back in place,” reversing the expulsion, or somehow avoiding the impending humanitarian crisis.

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