Millions of Darfuris at greater risk with aid groups' removal
But the expulsion of 13 aid groups from Sudan is more than a humanitarian crisis. It may reignite regional conflicts in the country – and beyond, say analysts.
(Page 2 of 3)
But if the NGOs' expulsion is a humanitarian disaster for Darfur, many observers are concerned that Sudan's fragile north-south border could erupt in conflict again. A peace deal between the Khartoum government and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement in 2005 ended a two-decade-long civil war, and launched the current Government of National Unity between President Bashir's National Congress Party and the late rebel leader John Garang's SPLM.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
At a rally Sunday in the northern Darfur town of El Fasher, President Bashir said that Sudan could do without the expelled NGOs. "We will fill the gap left by the NGOs," he said. Government officials say that Sudan will fill that gap through "national and friendly foreign" NGOs, such as the Sudanese Red Crescent society and Islamic Relief.
But the UN's humanitarian aid chief, John Holmes, said Monday that the UN agencies and other organizations allowed to remain in Darfur don't have the resources to replace the activities of those expelled.
According to Mr. Holmes, 7,610 people worked for the 13 expelled aid groups. They represent more than 50 percent of the roughly 14,000 humanitarian workers from 85 organizations that had been working in Darfur.
Analysts point out that none of Sudan's local NGOs have either the money or the expertise to replace a relief effort that currently costs $2 billion per year.
"If nothing is done to replace this humanitarian capacity, it literally threatens the lives of hundreds of thousands of Darfurians," says John Prendergast, a Sudan expert for the Enough Project, a US-based human rights group. "Remember, the biggest mortality spikes during the north-south war occurred when the government of Sudan cut off aid access or restricted aid agencies to areas the regime was punishing for one reason or another. Today, the Khartoum government is again utilizing starvation as a weapon of war and if there is little response as there was during the 1990s in Southern Sudan, we could be entering one of the deadliest phases yet of Darfur's war."
"The further the crisis escalates in Darfur, the more at risk it places the north-south peace deal." Mr. Prendergast says.