New Darfur crisis looms as Bashir digs in on aid

Workers fear catastrophe without help of international agencies during rain season

Delivering a blow to hopes that he would soon reverse the expulsion of humanitarian aid agencies from Darfur, the Sudanese President Omar al Bashir has renewed his attack on the charities, accusing them of seeking to bring about a regime change.

Mr Bashir claimed that the 2.2 million people depending on relief in the western Sudanese region were suffering no extra hardship as a result of his decision because Sudan itself was capable of filling the vacuum.

Mr Bashir made the claim to foreign journalists at his presidential palace in Khartoum. It was met with disbelief and dismay from Sudanese aid workers who said that the rainy season which starts next month would be catastrophic without the resources of the big international agencies to distribute food aid.

The relief effort would be manageable until the end of May, they said, but the rains and Mr Bashir's refusal to bow to international pressure would condemn millions of refugees to hunger and sickness.

"It is simply not true that the national NGOs [non-government organisations] can fill the gap in distributing aid" one relief worker in Sudan told The Independent. "All the indications are that in the coming three months conditions will be appalling. The camps will need air drops but the local groups do not have the capacity. There are no qualified aid organisations on the ground to fill the void."

Some of the President's closest advisers are also understood to believe that the expulsion's effects will be devastating and fear this will intensify Sudan's international isolation.

Sudanese diplomats raised hopes this month of a compromise which could allow the agencies to return under new names and logos. But hardliners in the regime are urging the President to stick to his decision because they believe at least one of the charities may be helping prepare witnesses to give evidence against him if he is brought to trial in The Hague.

Mr Bashir is the only serving head of state to have been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes.

Either way, Mr Bashir, who denies the charges against him, appears deaf to the warnings that his vendetta against the charities will add to the toll of human suffering in Darfur. "We are sure there will never be any shortages," he said. "There will never be any gaps in the services the internally displaced people need."

The 65-year-old former army chief alleged that the aid organisations had helped whip up anti-government feeling within the camps.

Mr Bashir, who seized power in a 1989 coup, said the agencies had been spying for the ICC and abusing their access as aid-givers: "Some of the NGOs played an adverse role. They incited the internally displaced people against the central government. The agencies we decided to expel played a negative role outside of their mandate. That's why we expelled them." Thirteen charities including Médecins Sans Frontières, Oxfam UK and Save the Children were ordered out of Sudan on 5 March, barely 24 hours after the ICC issued a warrant for the President's arrest for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur, including murder, rape and torture.

The United Nations forecast that the expulsions would put more than one million people at risk of starvation. Mr Bashir said there was no evidence that Darfur was experiencing any additional hardship in the absence of the charities: "The government has committed itself to filling any gap whether inside the [refugee] camps or elsewhere," he said. Arab countries and friendly Islamic states "with massive capabilities" were now filling the void.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Baroness Lane-Fox warned that large companies such as have become so powerful that governments and regulators are left behind
techTech giants have left governments and regulators behind
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
'Prison Architect' players decide the fate of inmates
tech
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor