August 9, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid Al-Nur (SLM-AW) has slammed the silence of the international community over Khartoum’s refusal to renew the residence permits of 20 UN staff in Darfur, warning they would review their position on a peacekeeping force to be deployed in the region.
A woman carries her child at a shelter in Kalma IDP camp outside Nyala in South Darfur on 29 November 2010 (Reuters)
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) confirmed last Tuesday that the Sudanese government had refused to renew the permits of 20 international staffers in Darfur, stressing that the agency may be forced to scale down its operations as a result.
The unexplained refusal comes amid a worsening humanitarian situation as violence in the region continues 10 years after the start of the conflict. Tribal clashes have so far displaced over 300,000 people in Darfur this year, while thousands were forced to flee their areas after fighting between the army and rebel groups.
The US administration was the only government to support UNHCR’s demands calling for the immediate renewal of work permits to its staffers providing humanitarian aid to displaced civilians on the ground.
In statement extended to Sudan Tribune, al-Nur called up on the international community and regional organisations to step up pressure on the Sudanese government to reverse decision, stressing that the latest move will negatively impact on the humanitarian situation in Darfur.
According to the statement, the failure of international and regional communities to pressure Khartoum to renew the permits for UNHCR workers would lead the rebel group to reconsider its position on the joint African Union-United Nation Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) deployed in the region since January 2008 to protect IDPs and affected civilians.
“Simply because without humanitarian assistance our displaced families will die and there will be nothing left for UNAMID to protect”, the rebel leader said.
Al-Nur claimed international aid workers had been targeted since March 2009 as part of a concerted plan by the Khartoum regime to deliberately kill the survivors of genocide allegedly perpetuated by government militias.
In March 2009, the Sudanese government expelled 13 international aid groups working in Darfur after a decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to indict Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir over alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.
The rebel leader said the motive of this policy is to ensure that “those who did not die from [government militia] Janjaweed attacks or aerial bombardment should die from thirst, hunger and diseases”.
The hybrid peacekeeping operation has been criticised by various rebel groups and the Sudanese government since its establishment.
UNAMID chief and joint peace mediator Mohamed Ibn Chambas plans to meet rebel groups this month in a bid to reenergise ongoing efforts to end the Darfur conflict.
Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47593
August 6, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s refusal to renew the residence permits of 20 UNHCR staffers impact negatively humanitarian activities in Darfur region where there are some two million internally displaced persons (IDPs) affected by the 10- year conflict.
A Sudanese refugee woman looks on during a visit by Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to the Andalusia camp for internally displaced people from southern Sudan, some 30 kms south of the capital Khartoum, on January 11, 2012 (AFP)
Since early July, the Sudanese authorities asked the 20 of 37 UNHCR international officials working in Darfur to leave the country after refusing to explain the reason behind such move.
The twenty staffers 20 “have not been renewed, despite extended follow-up by UNHCR with the relevant Government authorities, forcing it to scale down our operations”, UN officials said.
In order to highlight the importance of the situation, the director of UN Information Service in Geneva, briefed the media about the case together with spokespersons for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Also in Khartoum, UN permanent resident and humanitarian coordinator Ali Al-Zatari and UNHCR representative in Sudan Kai Nielsen, in a joint statement released simultaneously with Geneva press conference, regretted that “humanitarian activities for (IDPs) in Darfur have had to be scaled down” as a result of Khartoum’s refusal to renew the twenty residence permits.
Al-Zatari and Nielsen underlined that the humanitarian situation in Darfur remains critical because there are still long-term IDPs in the different camps across the region, but also due to the recent waves of displacement cause by the tribal violence and rebel clashes with the government forces.
“The inability of UNHCR to continue implementing its activities will directly impact projects related to health, education, basic services and livelihoods, the provision of emergency shelter and non-food items, and on the verification of returnees”, they said.
They further echoed an appeal the UN agencies launched from Geneva, urging Sudanese authorities to reconsider its decision and renew the permits for all the UNHCR staff, so as to fully resume their activities in Darfur.
Sudanese officials at different occasions regretted the establishment of IDPs camps in Darfur following a counter-insurgency campaign in 2003-2005 that resulted in the displacement of some four millions of civilians.. The government said the camps are manipulated by rebels.
Following the signing of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, Khartoum said the closure of IDPS camps tops its agenda and urged the international community and donors to fund development and reconstruction programmes instead of delivering humanitarian assistance.
However, Sudan pledged to facilitated the activities of UN agencies and aid groups and to not restrict their access to the different areas. It also committed itself to cooperate with agencies and groups intending to implement projects in line with a development strategy endorsed in a donor meeting held in Doha last April.
WASHINGTON CONDEMNS DECISION
In Washington the State Department backed the call of the UN agencies and urged the Sudanese government to “immediately renew” the necessary work permits for twenty UNHCR international staff providing humanitarian assistance and protection to IDPs in Darfur.
US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that Sudan’s failure to renew UNHCR permits “is particularly unfortunate, as it comes in the context of deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions in Darfur and the forcible displacement of over 300,000 persons this year”.
UN agencies said the tribal fighting that erupt in Darfur since January of this year forced over 300.000 people to flee their home in different areas in the region mainly in North Darfur. They underscored that the number of IDPs this year exceeded the total number of those who fled violence during the previous two years.
“This recent tightening of restrictions on humanitarian actors in Darfur, including UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations, raises serious concerns about the Government of Sudan’s willingness to uphold the promises it made in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, and raises questions regarding the viability of this peace accord”, he stressed on Tuesday.
Psaki further urged the Sudanese government and rebel groups to “engage without preconditions in an effective and inclusive political process to achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict”.
Last month, the UN Security Council rejected demands by Sudanese rebel groups for a comprehensive process leading to remove the regime of president Omer Bashir and asked them to negotiate a peace deal under the Doha framework agreement.
The strongly worded statement also called on Khartoum to allow UN agencies and all humanitarian actors “unfettered humanitarian access to all parts of Darfur to protect and to assist the victims of the conflict and to support the implementation of the peace agreements”.
Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47567
The USA has added its voice to that to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in urging Khartoum to reconsider the expulsion of the agency’s El Fasher staff.
In a press statement on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the US Department of State, Jen Psaki, called on the Government of Sudan “to immediately renew the necessary work permits for 20 UNHCR international staff providing humanitarian assistance and protection to hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the conflict in Darfur.
“The failure to renew UNHCR staff permits is particularly unfortunate, as it comes in the context of deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions in Darfur and the forcible displacement of over 300,000 persons this year – more than the total number of displaced persons in Darfur over the past two years. This will affect UNHCR’s ability to conduct its critical, lifesaving programs in several sectors including health, emergency shelter and provision of non-food items,” Psaki states.
“This recent tightening of restrictions on humanitarian actors in Darfur, including UN agencies and NGOs, raises serious concerns about the Government of Sudan’s willingness to uphold the promises it made in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, and raises questions regarding the viability of this peace accord. We call on the Sudanese Government and all rebel groups to engage without preconditions in an effective and inclusive political process to achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict. We call on the Government of Sudan to allow UNHCR and all humanitarian actors unfettered humanitarian access to all parts of Darfur to protect and to assist the victims of the conflict and to support the implementation of the peace agreements. The people of Darfur deserve peace and stability now,” the statement concludes.
Reports from Chad
In reports reaching Radio Dabanga from eastern Chad, the Sudanese refugees have expressed sadness at not being able to celebrate the upcoming Eid Al Fitr, which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, due to the poor economic conditions. They are destitute and market prices have soared.
A sheikh of camp Toulom, Haider Suleiman Gardia, has reported to Radio Dabanga that while Eid Al Fitr is meant to be a religious festival for delight, this year’s Eid is the worst for the refugees. He said that the high cost of living, prices rising, food shortages and lack of income sources mean the refugees could not afford to buy sweets and clothes for their children and families.
The sheikh of camp Kounoungo, Issa El Tijani has similarly reported to Radio Dabanga that Eid Al Fitr of this year is different from all the past festivals because of the economic and humanitarian conditions facing the refugees.
He said that the humanitarian organisations’ reduction of food rations left the refugees facing an inevitable famine due to the failure of the current planting season. Sheikh El Tijani added that the refugees used to receive some assistance from their relatives in Sudan, however their relatives themselves are now in need of assistance due to the deteriorating economic situation there.
The sheikh expressed hope that peace would prevail in the country so that they could return to their homes and farms.
File photo: UNHCR staff meet Darfuri refugees in Chad in April (M Antoine/UNHCR)
Darfur relief operations hampered as 20 UNHCR staff expelled (6 August 2013)
UNHCR ‘completes move of Darfuris from Chad border’ (14 June 2013)
Article source: http://www.radiodabanga.org/node/54388