Sudan: No time for political games, says Amnesty after aid agencies expelled

Amnesty International today urged the Sudanese government to reverse its decision to expel aid agencies from the country, warning that 2.2 million people face the risk of starvation and disease

The call followed the order by the Government of Sudan to expel more than 10 aid agencies, including Oxfam, Care, Save the Children's rights and Medecins Sans Frontieres.

Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Deputy Director said:

“Millions of lives are at stake and this is no time to play political games. Aid agencies provide the bulk of the humanitarian aid required by more than two million vulnerable people.

“By expelling humanitarian agencies, the Sudanese government is effectively holding the entire civilian population of Darfur hostage – an aggressive act that must be condemned in the strongest possible terms by the African Union, the League of Arab States and the international community as a whole.”

The expulsions came soon after a decision by the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Several other aid agencies had their assets seized.

Tawanda Hondora continued:

“The population of Darfur, which has suffered the brunt of this conflict for the past six years, is now being punished by its own government in response to the arrest warrant.

“The Sudanese authorities must immediately reverse their decision to expel and suspend the operations of key humanitarian aid agencies and allow them to carry on with their life-saving work. The alternative is simply unthinkable.”

The African Union today held an emergency meeting to discuss the arrest warrant. The League of Arab States convened yesterday and expressed its solidarity with President al-Bashir. Amnesty International urged the Peace and Security Council of the AU to hold a special hearing to look at the question of access, with a view to ensuring the return of humanitarian agencies to Darfur.

Tawanda Hondora added:

“Like any country, Sudan has responsibilities under international humanitarian law to ensure access to international assistance for people who need it. The existence of an arrest warrant for the country’s president is entirely irrelevant to the issue.”

Notes to The Editor
1. Under the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, which Sudan has ratified, the Sudanese government is obliged to refrain from actions that violate the economic, social and cultural rights of its citizens and seek international assistance if they are unable to carry out their obligations.
2. To arrange an interview, contact Amnesty International UK media unit

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