What ARE they doing? Part Two

In my last blog entry, it was my aim to look at what Canada is concretely doing to take action on the situation in Darfur. I wrote about Canada’s relations with Sudan, and, drawing on the Canadian government’s website, outlined Canada’s approach to Sudan in the realm of diplomacy (one of three pillars including aid and security). I will now turn to the first of two remaining pillars, aid, looking at what the Canadian government website says it is doing to assist Sudan in this area.

Through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Canada “provides humanitarian assistance to meet the immediate basic needs of conflict-affected populations in Sudan, mainly in the Darfur region, as well as support for the return and reintegration of millions of people displaced by the separate civil war in southern Sudan.” According to the government website, Canada has made over $143 million available in relief aid to civilians affected by war in Sudan.

Through CIDA, Canada also makes early recovery support available to underpin the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. This refers to CIDA’s support for “governance, education, health care, mine action, and reintegration of internally-displaced and refugee populations.” According to the website, since January 2006 Canada has made over $89 million available for early recovery efforts.

Finally, in addition to Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the UK, moreover, Canada is part of the Joint Donor Team, which is “mandated to assist to Government of southern Sudan to promote policies in support of sustainable peace, poverty reduction and the attainment of Millennium Development Goals.”

There is no mention on the government website about Sudan’s recent move expelling 13 foreign aid agencies from the country following the issuing of an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Sudanese President Bashir – an act that, in my view, has tainted the rosy picture painted of Canadian involvement in Sudan. Of late, moreover, the situation for aid workers (including Canadians) has become more perilous, with several of these workers having been kidnapped in recent months. How will the Canadian government respond to the imperilling of humanitarian activity in Darfur, which will further compromise the lives of Sudanese civilians?

The briefness of this section of the website makes it seem like a dollar figure should be sufficient for Canadians to feel that we are doing our very best to help those in need of humanitarian assistance in Darfur. It isn’t enough, for these aggregate figures can disguise many realities. If you go to the link http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/sudan, there’s the good stuff, for it gives concrete figures for what has been accomplished in Sudan. These figures, however, are problematic for they do not assess CIDA’s specific contribution, only the global results that CIDA has contributed to along with other donors. A useful resource may be the Mid Term Evaluation carried out by the Joint Donor Team in February 2009, which is available at http://www.norad.no/items/14798/38/4592453832/Mid-Term%20Evaluation%20of%20the%20Joint%20Donor%20Team%20in%20Juba,%20Sudan.pdf.

In my next blog entry: I will look at the last element in Canada’s three-pronged approach to Sudan, security. As always, I invite your comments and suggestions!

-Sarah Katz-Lavigne

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