Dire Consequences After Sudan Expels Aid Agencies
The government of Sudan terminated work licenses of the International Rescue Committee and 12 other international aid groups in Darfur yesterday and today, decimating the relief effort in a region where more than two million people remain displaced and dependent on foreign assistance.
An IRC clinic that provided medical care for tens of thousands of people in the South Darfur town of Kass was shut down today by government officials. Other IRC clinics and water programs were still in operation today, but at a drastically reduced scale.
"Our clinics have a month's worth of medicines and supplies and there's enough fuel to run our water pumps for two weeks, but after that, the situation will become very bleak, very fast," said Kurt Tjossem, who oversees IRC programs in the Horn and East of Africa.
In sprawling Kalma Camp in South Darfur, the two largest providers of health care, one of which is the IRC, have been ordered to shut down. This will leave 91,000 people without essential medical services.
In Kass, also in South Darfur, the IRC and three other agencies that provide water are being forced to close their operations -- meaning 100,000 people will be without clean drinking water.
In Zalingei, in West Darfur, the IRC and the only other provider of water are being ousted. That is another 100,000 people who will be without access to safe water.
"If the Sudanese government doesn't reverse its decision, the humanitarian impact could be devastating," says Tjossem. "We provide clean water for people to drink. We work to prevent the spread of disease and ensure that hundreds of thousands of people have medical care when they are sick. These are programs that keep people alive. If they disappear, I fear many lives will be lost."
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