Posted by: africanpressorganization | 7 March 2009

Darfur / Government of the Sudan’s decision to expel 13 non-governmental organizations




Darfur / Government of the Sudan’s decision to expel 13 non-governmental organizations


NEW YORK, March 7, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Daily press briefing by the office of the spokesperson for the UN secretary-general


On Darfur, the Secretary-General is contacting leaders in the region to follow up on his appeal to the Government of the Sudan to reconsider its decision to expel 13 non-governmental organizations which aid some 4.7 million people in Darfur.  His recent contacts included telephone calls with the leaders of the African Union and the League of Arab States.


The UN Refugee Agency, meanwhile, said it shared the deep concern of the Secretary-General and the rest of the United Nations system over the ordered departure of the aid groups and the serious implications this has for humanitarian efforts on behalf of hundreds of thousands of extremely vulnerable people in Darfur and elsewhere.


For UNHCR’s [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] part, at least five of the non-governmental organizations asked to leave the Sudan have been UNHCR implementing partners carrying out important humanitarian programmes, not only in Darfur but also in Blue Nile State and Khartoum State.  So it is noteworthy that their removal could have an impact not only on Darfur, but on vulnerable people elsewhere in the country.


UNHCR also says it is concerned at the possible implications this could have more broadly in the region.  Experience shows that, when vulnerable populations are unable to get the help they need, they go elsewhere in search of protection and assistance.  If food can’t get through to people, they will soon suffer and have to look elsewhere.


The United Nations team in Darfur has helped many displaced people stay as close to home as possible while also relieving pressure on neighbouring Chad, where UNHCR and its partners are already caring for nearly 250,000 refugees from Darfur.  UNHCR provides a string of 12 remote camps spread over 600 kilometres near the Sudan border.  Any influx to Chad would be an additional challenge for UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies because of ongoing insecurity and instability in the country, as well as limited resources, like water.


The World Health Organization (WHO) says the decision could lead to the increase of mortality and morbidity due to the interruption of health services, the decline of immunization coverage and the increase of mortality and morbidity among children if they do not have access to therapeutic feeding and nutrition services.


UNICEF said its main concerns were in the areas of water and sanitation, nutrition and health.  UNICEF is doing what it can to ensure that those programmes continue, whether by using existing non-governmental organizations whose licences had not been revoked, or other partners to implement such life-saving assistance.


A fact sheet prepared by OCHA [Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs] is available upstairs, and OCHA’s Catherine Bragg will brief you at the stakeout following her humanitarian briefing to the Security Council this afternoon.


Meanwhile, according to the African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID), a number of banditry activities targeting UNAMID personnel and aid groups was reported in all three sectors.  Banditry activities included armed robbery, theft of personal belongings and harassment.  No injuries were reported.  UNAMID is investigating these incidents.


During the last 24 hours, UNAMID military forces conducted 18 confidence-building patrols, 7 escort patrols, 9 night patrols and 1 investigation patrol covering 42 villages and IDP [internally displaced persons] camps throughout Darfur.


SOURCE : United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson of the Secretary-General



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