A combination of stopgap measures by United Nations agencies and the Sudanese government has kept aid flowing in the world’s largest relief program in Darfur, but the makeshift effort cannot be sustained, John Holmes, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator, said Tuesday.
“These are Band-Aid solutions, not long-term solutions,” Mr. Holmes told reporters, summarizing a joint assessment by the United Nations and Sudan last week after the government in Khartoum shut down 16 aid organizations.
The decision to expel 13 foreign organizations and disband 3 local ones immediately followed an announcement on March 4 by the International Criminal Court in The Hague that it was indicting President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan on war crimes charges in the conflict in Darfur.
President Bashir has vowed to defy the arrest warrant and has begun a series of trips abroad to rally support from regional leaders.
On Wednesday, he met in Cairo with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, and visited Eritrea on Monday. He has vowed to attend an Arab League summit meeting in Qatar next week
Under the International Criminal Court’s charter, its 108 member states are obliged to arrest Mr. Bashir if he sets foot on their territory.
Neither Egypt, Eritrea nor Qatar are members of the court, making his arrest in those countries unlikely. The court, however, has called upon all governments, even those who are not members, to arrest Mr. Bashir if they have the chance.
Violent flare-ups have plagued Darfur, an arid western province, ever since the court issued the warrant; a Sudanese aid worker was shot dead in front of his family on Monday night.
Mr. Holmes said the shooting was being treated as a robbery but remained under investigation.
Mark Simmons, Sudan country director for a Canadian organization, the Fellowship for African Relief, said the aid worker might have been killed for refusing to give up his satellite phone.
In another development, Ayman al-Zawahri, the No. 2 leader of Al Qaeda, urged the Sudanese in an audiotape released on Tuesday to undertake jihad against what he said was a “crusade” being organized by the West to manufacture a crisis in Sudan as an excuse to invade another Islamic land.
Both sides in the Darfur conflict are predominantly Muslim, and Mr. Zawahri said he was not defending the Bashir government. Indeed, he said that it was “reaping what it sowed” and that it should repent for pandering to the West.
Mr. Zawahri questioned why the International Criminal Court had not issued any arrest warrants for Western leaders. He wondered why the United Nations and the international community had not reacted to Palestinian suffering the way they had to suffering in Darfur.
“Why hasn’t the United Nations and the international community intervened to lift the siege from Gaza, while it pretends to cry over the people of Darfur being deprived of relief and aid?” he said on the 17-minute tape.
On the joint United Nations-Sudan technical assessment in Darfur, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem, the Sudanese ambassador to the United Nations, said it showed that “the humanitarian situation is fully under control.”
Mr. Holmes noted that although both parties had signed off on the assessment, the United Nations had a slightly different long-term perspective on the $1 billion-a-year assistance program, which serves many of the 4.7 million people in Darfur.
The money for some programs that were run by expelled agencies is going to run out. For example, water programs will probably run out of financing in a month, Mr. Holmes said. He said Sudan had not supplied enough doctors to staff all 43 health-care centers that had been run by the expelled groups.
The World Food Program, a United Nations agency that will remain in Sudan, used to deliver food through many of the agencies that were shut down.
The program delivered food for March and April to 1.1 million people by using local committees, but another method will have to be found, Mr. Holmes said.
The assessment “reveals a huge amount of work to do if the decisions are not reversed quickly in order to make sure that there is a sustainable and effective aid operation in place,” Mr. Holmes said.
Source New York Times