March 4, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — Sudan has expelled 10 humanitarian groups Darfur today after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for the President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.
The ten foreign NGOs concerned by the expulsion are: Oxfam, CARE, MSF-Holland, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, the Norweigan Refugee Council, the International Rescue Committee, Action Contre la Faim, Solidarites, and CHF International.
The Sudanese government Wednesday ordered the10 humanitarian group to leave Sudan saying they were involved in collaboration with the ICC investigation in Darfur crimes.
Further Sudanese authorities dissolved two local organizations: Khartoum Center for Development and Environment and Amal Center for Rehabilitation of Violence Victims. The decision of dissolution said the two NGOs violated its mission as humanitarian organizations.
Khartoum center expressed fears that the ICC arrest warrant would cause "widespread targeting of Sudanese civil society organizations and activists involved in the field of human rights."
Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha confirmed the expulsion of the 10 NGOs indicating that "Whenever an organization takes humanitarian aid as a cover to achieve a political agenda that affects the security of the county and its stability, measures are to be taken by law to protect the country and its interests."
Aid organization stressed they are independent bodies that has no link with the ICC. They further said that this move comes in a times where the Darfur civilians are in dire need for their aid.
“This comes at a time when meningitis cases have been confirmed in Niertiti and Kalma camp, temporary home to 90,000 internally displaced persons," said MSF in a statement issued today.
UN chief Ban Ki Moon said the expulsion "represents a serious setback to lifesaving operations in Darfur." He also urged the Sudanese government to reverse over its decision.
In a talk show at the "France 24" TV the spokesperson of the French foreign ministry, also urged the Sudan to overturn its decision saying these organizations provide necessary aid to the displaced who suffer from violence and insecurity since six years.
According to the UN, some 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have fled their homes in the war torn region of Darfur since 2003. The displaced are living in camps disseminated throughout the troubled region.
Oxfam said its departure will affect more than 600,000 Sudanese who receive vital humanitarian and development aid. While Save the Children UK said supporting around 50,000 Darfuri children.
Aid agencies described the eviction as deeply regretful but expressed some hopes that the decision would be reversed.
"This is a devastating blow to the many people of Sudan who rely upon NGOs for both immediate survival, and help in building more prosperous and stable futures for their families," stated Mercy Corps President Nancy Lindborg.
"We sincerely hope that this decision will be reversed so we can get back to the critical business of saving and improving lives," he added.