Wednesday, August 7, 2013

UNHCR Workers Not Permitted to Continue Work in Sudan

Sudan has failed to renew the work permits for the majority of the humanitarian workers from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), seriously hindering the UNHCR's ability to provide assistance to the persons who have been displaced by the conflicts in that country. According to the UN, there are approximately 2 million displaced persons in Sudan, including 300,000 newly displaced persons within the last year. 1.2 million persons live in refugee camps.  

Here is a US State Department Press release on the matter:

"The United States joins the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in urging the Government of Sudan to immediately renew the necessary work permits for twenty UNHCR international staff providing humanitarian assistance and protection to hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the conflict in Darfur.

The failure to renew UNHCR staff permits is particularly unfortunate, as it comes in the context of deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions in Darfur and the forcible displacement of over 300,000 persons this year -- more than the total number of displaced persons in Darfur over the past two years. This will affect UNHCR’s ability to conduct its critical, lifesaving programs in several sectors including health, emergency shelter and provision of non-food items.

This recent tightening of restrictions on humanitarian actors in Darfur, including UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations, raises serious concerns about the Government of Sudan’s willingness to uphold the promises it made in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, and raises questions regarding the viability of this peace accord. We call on the Sudanese Government and all rebel groups to engage without preconditions in an effective and inclusive political process to achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict. We call on the Government of Sudan to allow UNHCR and all humanitarian actors unfettered humanitarian access to all parts of Darfur to protect and to assist the victims
of the conflict and to support the implementation of the peace agreements. The people of Darfur deserve peace and stability now."

While States have the sovereign right to control their borders, they also have a responsibility for the welfare of their population.  The government of Sudan does not have the resources to adequately care for this population at present.  Accordingly, Sudan has an obligation to allow humanitarian aid workers to resume work in the country to prevent futher humanitarian disaster.

(cgb)

 

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