April 8, 2009 (LONDON) – Human rights and civil society groups in Nigeria, Kenya and other African countries joined Amnesty International in warning Wednesday that “millions of people in Darfur face death and disease.”
At seven press conferences held in seven African countries, the non-governmental organizations called on the government of Sudan to aid organizations to resume their operations in the country and “to stop harassing and intimidating human rights defenders and staff of national and international aid and human rights organizations.”
The government of Sudan shut down the operations of 13 international and 3 national aid organizations following the issue of an arrest warrant on March 4 against President Omar Al Bashir by the International Criminal Court.
A coalition of groups protested the decision, speaking out from Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Mali.
But the Sudanese government has said at different times since March 4, that its decision is irreversible. Also the Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir said he intends to “sudanize” the humanitarian activities by the end of the year.
Nevertheless, the African rights coalition called on the government of Sudan to reverse the expulsion order. They also called on the African Union, especially the Peace and Security Council, to seek to sway Sudan’s decision.
“The aid organizations have been in Darfur since 2003 and have been providing water, food, shelter and medicines to the people of Darfur because the government was unable to provide these essential supplies. The government of Sudan has not put measures in place to ensure that aid supplies to civilians would be unaffected,” said Amnesty International.
The African groups participating in this appeal are: East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, Human Rights Institute for South Africa, Access to Justice (Nigeria), Alliances for Africa (Nigeria), Centre for Rule of Law (Nigeria), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (Nigeria), Committee for Defence of Human Rights (Nigeria), Human Rights Law Service (Nigeria), Legal Defence and Assistance Project (Nigeria), National Association of Democratic Lawyers (Nigeria), Partnership for Justice (Nigeria), Socio-Economic Rights & Accountability Project (Nigeria), West African Bar Association (Nigeria), Women Advocates Research & Documentation Centre (Nigeria), Women’s Consortium of Nigeria (Nigeria), Release political prisoners group (Kenya), Educational centre for women and democaracy ( Kenya) and Independent medical legal unit (Kenya).