May 31, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) has ordered seven foreign aid groups to suspend their humanitarian activities in eastern Sudan following the findings of an assessment study reporting infractions they allegedly committed.
- Refugee girls play during a visit by UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres to the Shagarab Eritrean Refugees camp at Kassala in East Sudan January 12, 2012. (Reuters)
Eastern Sudan, which suffers from underdevelopment and marginalisation, is one of the poorest regions in the country where drought has caused many to abandon traditional nomadic lifestyles. Illegal immigration and refugees from Ethiopia and Eritrea have attracted humanitarian groups to the region.
Sudan’s Humanitarian commissioner Suleiman Abdel Rahman on Thursday issued a decision ending the humanitarian activities of the seven aid groups in the three states of Eastern Sudan region: Kassala; Red Sea and Gadaref states.
The ban was based on a report prepared by a federal committee that conducted a field assessment of the projects implemented by these groups.
The aid groups concerned by this decision include Accord, Goal, Triangle, save the Children, Plan Sudan, Malo, a British demining group, and a Japanese aid group.
In July 2009, the Sudanese authorities expelled 13 international aid groups working in Darfur accusing them of cooperation and false reports to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which issued an arrest warrant for President Omer Al-Bashir for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
Since then, the government has suspected humanitarian groups have been suspected by the government of plotting against the regime, being linked to foreign intelligence agencies and supporting rebel groups.
Since June 2011, Khartoum has refused to allow aid group to access rebel held areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The authorities say rebel fighters will benefit from the humanitarian assistance.
The officer of voluntary activities, at the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) Ammar Bachari stated Thursday that foreign aid groups in Eastern Sudan exceeded their license and roles. He further expected a decision by the Presidency of the Republic to expel them during the next few days.
However, HAC’s chief, in his decision, gave the groups one month to reconcile their position. If they fail the authorities will not renew their licenses and they will have to stop their activities.
Earlier in May, addressing a rally organised in Port Sudan to provide support to the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), Sudanese presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie denounced calls for the return of NGOs to South Kordofan and described them as "trumpeters of conspiracy".
"Those who covet that foreign aid groups have a foothold in the East (Sudan) they should know there is no place for them," he further said.