Notes From an Aid Worker

Dear xxxx,

As you may have heard in the news, one the implications of an arrest warrant against the president of Sudan has seen Save the Children US (SCUS) along with 12 other major NGO's getting expelled by a presidential decree earlier today.

Yesterday (WED 4th) evening, as the rally in the city centre was wrapping up, I was aware of Save the Children UK office was being raided by government officials, however, today about 10 am it came as a shock, when armed police and plain clothes security elements with senior ministry of humanitarian affairs officials came to our office and presented a letter accusing the agency of spying and started the takeover process to seize everything from our files to our computers and all vehicles, HF Radios, SAT phones in all 22 sub offices across the country. In one instance, approx 1700 people SCUS employs in Sudan are jobless. Our program delivery has stopped, essential lives saving interventions of the agency have stopped and the livelihoods of thousands of employees have been affected.

We have been accused of spying and providing the ICC with information against the state. As one security official from the humanitarian ministry put it to me (while he was reaching over me and my desk trying to snatch the mouse to shut my machine off), that I should be glad as most of us are not being arrested with crimes accounting to treason against Sudan... we are just being told to leave the country.

What saddens me is the resulting impact of the general populations and IDPS in the camps. Just with SC US programs in Darfur, approximately 400,000 people in 5 major camps and surrounding villages received food through daily distributions, 200 health clinics overlooked treatment of thousands of patients daily, and 400,000 ppl had access to clean water. The list is endless, South kordofan and Nuba have seen major developments in terms of Save programs in water, sanitation, livelihoods, health, nutrition, education, women and child protection. We are just one agency, collectively, the 13 NGOs meant the whole Sudan though these agencies was receiving millions of dollars in rehabilitation and development funds in the post conflict transition phase. Where will all these people turn for help to? Did the ICC even think about what the backlash was going to be? They have made it worse for the very people they are looking to help.

xxxxx (my brave sister working with SCUS as well) on the phone from Darfur where the whole team awaits flights to evacuate, during our conversation stopped talking and asked me to listen to the announcement being made on loud speakers by armed men on horses roaming the streets of Geneina town (janjaweed) warning all the people, as to anyone seen celebrating this warrant issue will be publicly humiliated and killed. I hope she and the others can make it back by Sunday so we all can breathe easy again.

We have been given a few days to leave the country, our country director is working very hard to buy us time to wind up and keep the process smooth, but as it seems we all will be out of Sudan with the coming week if not earlier. So far all staff is being sent to Addis Ababa.

I thought of giving you an update, as i'm sure you would be closely monitoring the situation.

All the best
Apologies for the scattered ideas and thoughts in this message, the last two days have been very tough

1 comment:

Lindsay, UoGuelph Chapter said...

Its true - I view this as a "one step forward, two steps back" scenario. Except, I'd be more inclined to say many more than two steps back, because there will be so much suffering as a result. It's disheartening too, knowing that finally, a reaction from the international community such as this one comes across as being such a fantastic step forward in dealing with these situations, when really, it may have just made things worse for the millions of people that we are trying to save. It's hard to say this wasn't expected though. But still - how to justify the ICC's decision when I know it comes at such a cost?