Agency Expulsions in Sudan: Consequences and Next Steps
By Sara Pantuliano, Susanne Jaspars and Deepayan Basu Ray
The expulsion of 13 international organisations and the suspension of three national NGOs by the government of Sudan earlier this month has generated widespread concerns about the consequences of the interruption of aid for civilians. Assistance to Darfur’s 2.7 million-plus displaced people has been severely compromised, and a number of health-related crisis are already emerging. In the Three Areas, the repercussions of these expulsions could undermine the gains made in realising the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). In Eastern Sudan, the expulsion of these agencies has deprived the region of critical food, livelihoods and medical assistance.
A new paper from ALNAP and the Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) released on Thursday offers a snapshot of what the expelled agencies were doing, where they were based and the type of assistance they were providing at the time of their departure. The paper illustrates how different assistance sectors in Darfur have been affected by the expulsion of agencies from Sudan, including food distribution, food security, nutrition, water and sanitation, health, shelter and protection. Water, sanitation and healthcare are expected to be of particular concern, with food needs being covered at least temporarily. A sudden decrease in aid also threatens to destabilise the security situation in Darfur. The expulsions have also left large parts of the Three Areas and Eastern Sudan without any humanitarian cover or recovery and reintegration support. In effect, the expulsion has halted major projects with significant budgets, designed to support the implementation of the CPA through recovery, development and reconstruction activities.
The paper considers the challenges these agencies had to tackle, how their programmes evolved, the extent to which these agencies had developed contingency plans and remote working capacities and the challenges involved in scaling up operations to make up for the shortfall in services. The expulsions have raised key questions about operating modalities and humanitarian assistance in Sudan. These include the lack of local capacity to take over from the departed agencies, potential difficulties in accessing all conflict affected populations, continued acute shortages of fuel, food, water and medicines, and severe impediments to existing NGOs and the UN system as they seek to scale up and cover the gaps, such as insecurity, visa and travel permit restrictions. These factors could seriously compromise the application of humanitarian principles, in particular the impartiality of humanitarian assistance.
The paper discusses the immediate implications of the expulsions and outlines a number of “˜next steps’ for the UN system, donors and international NGOs. These include suggestions for expelled INGOs, NGOs still operating on the ground, the UN system, and finally the wider donor community.