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Statement on the NGO Expulsions by Sudan

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Statement on the NGO Expulsions by Sudan

Posted by John Norris on March 5, 2009

“The Obama administration and the other members of the United Nations Security Council must convey a simple and direct message to Khartoum: Access for relief agencies needs to be immediately restored, or the international community will use all necessary means to restore this access,” said John Norris, Executive Director of the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress.

“The time has come for the international response to Darfur’s agony to move beyond the rhetorical, and the vulnerable people of Sudan do not have time for lengthy policy reviews.”  

In response to the International Criminal Court arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese government has moved to expel humanitarian organizations from the most vulnerable areas of Darfur and other areas in East and North Sudan. In addition, a number of important Sudanese human rights defenders around the country have faced a broadening crackdown. 

Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast noted, “The decision by Sudan to cynically deny its own citizens lifesaving aid threatens a profound humanitarian emergency and demands a robust and decisive response from the international community — and the Obama administration in particular.“ 

President Bashir’s government has a long history of cutting off humanitarian aid as a deliberate military and political strategy, and this tactic was widely used in Sudan’s earlier North-South conflict. 

President Barack Obama should now take a number of key steps, including: 
  • Working with the U.N. Security Council to support a resolution authorizing an expanded United Nations peacekeeping force, known as UNAMID,  backed by air support to guarantee the safe delivery of relief supplies;
  • Accelerating discussions both at the U.N. and with NATO allies regarding the institution of either a no-fly zone or other practical steps to counter continued violations by Sudan on the U.N. ban on offensive military flights in Darfur;
  • Working with the U.N. Security Council to implement targeted sanctions against those most responsible for violence in Sudan and imposing a comprehensive arms embargo against the government of Sudan; 
  • Making UNAMID effective with a robust force on the ground in Darfur, with a competent lead nation and a clear command-and-control structure; 
  • Working closely with interested parties with leverage in Sudan and the region, especially China, the United Kingdom, France, and key African countries, to coordinate efforts on peace, the protection of civilians, and accountability; and, 
  • Appointing a senior special envoy to address not only the situation in Darfur, but Sudan’s multiple conflicts and their regional dimensions.