Sudan's government has barred three leading international aid agencies from operating in war-torn Darfur as well as in the north and eastern regions of the country, putting at risk the lives of nearly two million people.
In an apparent response to the decision of the International Criminal Court to issue a warrant of arrerst for President Omar al-Bashir, the government revoked the licences of British-based Oxfam International, the Dutch branch of Medicines sans Frontiers and the American-based agency , the International Rescue Committee. No explanation was provided for the decision.
Amongst the vital services that the aid agencies provide are medical care, water, sanitation and education programmes for about 650,000 people in Darfur and 1.1 million in north and east Sudan.
"We are extremely distressed by the forced closure of our aid operations," said George Rupp, the IRC’s president and CEO. "It appears the international aid effort in the region is being shut down and that raises grave concerns about the welfare of millions of Sudanese people who rely on humanitarian aid for survival."
A press statement released by MSF stated that at the time that the decision was announced, meningitis had broken out in Kalma Campa, a temporary home to more than 90,000 internally displaced citizens.
“MSF has worked tirelessly to deliver medical aid to the people of Darfur since the beginning of the crisis. It is completely unacceptable that the people of Darfur are being deprived of essential medical care,” said Arjan Hehenkamp, MSF-Holland operational director.
All three groups are non-governmental organisations with no affliation to the ICC.