Save Darfur Action Alert

Check out the Executive Director's Corner on the Save Darfur website. I have included some of the action alert below.

16 aid organizations expelled from Darfur in response to the ICC indictment of President Omar El-Bashir

Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir
A defiant Omar El-Bashir (right) threatens further repercussions for his indictment by the International Criminal Court (Reuters)

On March 4th, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced its decision to indict Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir on five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes for atrocities committed in Darfur, Sudan, since 2002. There will be no "quick way" to arrest Bashir and bring him to trial.

In response, the Sudanese government made good on its threats for retaliation against an indictment and expelled 16 humanitarian organizations from Darfur. Together, the 16 agencies provided more than 50-70% of all essential relief to Darfuri civilians, and up to 40% of aid workers in Darfur have been affected by the move. UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, warned "that the effects could shake the region," and launched an "urgent appeal" to Sudan to reverse its decision.

Learn more about the ICC announcement in Save Darfur Canada's March 4th Executive Summary. Read Reuters' "Snap Analysis" of the consequences of the indictment.

See a list of organizations affected by the recent aid agency expulsions which include 13 international and 3 Sudanese groups. The list is provided by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

A Canadian nurse was one of four aid workers from the Belgian branch of Doctors Without Borders abducted by armed men in Darfur on March 12th. The Sudanese government is currently negotiating with the kidnappers of the aid workers.

The United Nations (UN) is investigating whether the expulsion of aid organizations is a war crime, but for the moment, the UN Security Council is "deadlocked" over how to respond. Bashir is threatening further aid agency expulsions, as well as the expulsion of foreign diplomats, and says that his indictment will affect the Darfur peace process.

Human Rights Watch criticized the aid agency expulsion, calling on the Government of Sudan to respect its "obligation under international humanitarian law to ensure that relief aid reaches people in need in conflict situations." Amnesty International warned that "2.2 million people face the risk of starvation and disease," accusing Sudan of "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." Save the Children has estimated that 1 million of those affected will be children.

Canada must continue to condemn the expulsion of aid agencies from Darfur, and push the Sudanese Government to comply with its international obligations to protect civilians within Sudan.

to the Prime Minister and party leaders.

Darfuri advocates in the United States and across Europe celebrated the ICC's announcement, with 100 international Darfuri leaders issuing a public letter of support for the indictment which included diaspora signatories in Canada. Read responses from Darfurians in and outside of Sudan.
Not everyone is in agreement that the Bashir indictment was a positive development. Academics Alex de Waal and Julie Flint accused the ICC's Chief Prosecutor, who made the case for Bashir's indictment, of going too high in the chain of command and of having bad timing. However, the Chief ICC Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, responded that he was given the mandate to end impunity in Darfur by the UN Security Council in 2005, and that it is not his role (but the UNSC's) to make political considerations. He went on to explain that as the Chief Prosecutor, it is his job to present evidence for the crimes in Darfur, and that in this case, three ICC Pre Trial Chambre judges agreed that the evidence was sufficient to proceed with charges. He noted that "Mr. Bashir is killing, torturing, raping, exterminating entire communities today." Click here and fast forward to the 9:20 mark to listen to a CBC radio interview with Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

On March 10th, the Canadian ICC president defended Bashir's indictment, explaining that the Court's mandate is not to interpret politics but to prosecute the most senior war criminals.

State members of the Arab League and African leaders continue to call for an Article 16 deferral of ICC's investigations by the United Nations Security Council, though reports suggest that Arab leaders may “be hesitant to receive” Bashir as a result of the ICC warrant.

Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lawrence Cannon, issued a statement urging Sudan to cooperate with the ICC, citing its obligation to do so under UN Resolution 1593. CIDA's Minister, Beverly Oda, urged the Sudanese Government to "reconsider its decision [to expel aid agencies] and to respect its obligations under international humanitarian law to facilitate full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to assist those in need."

1 comment:

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