The Sudanese government’s recent expulsion of thirteen international humanitarian aid organizations from the most vulnerable areas of Darfur and other areas in eastern and northern Sudan will have repercussions that are difficult to fathom. In retaliation for the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court on Wednesday for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, his regime is again targeting the very people whom they are supposed to protect.
There are approximately 4.7 million internally displaced Darfuris living in camps in Darfur today. In a press conference yesterday, Catherine Bragg, the United Nations’ Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, stated that the expelled groups made up 40% of the total number of aid workers in these camps. In her statement, Ms. Bragg reported that with the loss of these groups, over one million people would be left without food, health care and potable water.
Outside the hospital — run by the International Rescue Committee until it was ordered out — a mother brushed flies from the face of her daughter. “My baby is sick,” Fatima Abdulrahmen said. “She has a fever and I brought her here and now I don’t know what to do. Who will help me now?”
As the U.N. scrambles to fill the gap left by the expelled groups, the United States and the new Obama administration must take some important steps during this crucial time. If the reports on the President’s desk aren’t enough, I hope the sheer numbers of lives hanging in the balance are.
Update: This amazing map produced by OCHA illustrates the humanitarian crisis throughout Darfur.