Hard times just got harder in Darfur

March 19, 2009

You may have read"in the news or in the recent joint UN agency statement we posted here"that the government of Sudan has revoked the licenses of 16 humanitarian organizations, suspending their activities in that country. UNICEF is not one of the organizations on the list. But the absence of so many of our very valuable partners has left us working intensely to keep water flowing, food supplies delivered and vaccines administered.

In the Darfur region of Sudan, where approximately 2.7 million people have been displaced from their homes over the last four years, aid organizations (also known as non-governmental organizations or NGOs) play a crucial role in providing lifesaving humanitarian services. That means helping to supply food, shelter, clean water, vaccines, healthcare, education and more to people who often have nothing but the clothes they are wearing. In Darfur, it's estimated that half of the 2.7 million displaced people are children. And UNICEF is deeply concerned that they continue to get the aid they so desperately need.

You may have read"in the news or in the recent joint UN agency statement we posted here"that the government of Sudan has revoked the licenses of 16 humanitarian organizations, suspending their activities in that country. UNICEF is not one of the organizations on the list. But the absence of so many of our very valuable partners has left us working intensely to keep water flowing, food supplies delivered and vaccines administered.

In the Darfur region of Sudan, where approximately 2.7 million people have been displaced from their homes over the last four years, aid organizations (also known as non-governmental organizations or NGOs) play a crucial role in providing lifesaving humanitarian services. That means helping to supply food, shelter, clean water, vaccines, healthcare, education and more to people who often have nothing but the clothes they are wearing. In Darfur, it's estimated that half of the 2.7 million displaced people are children. And UNICEF is deeply concerned that they continue to get the aid they so desperately need.

A girl in the Abu Shouk camp, near Darfur
© UNICEF/NYHQ2006-0524/Shehzad Noorani
A girl pours water into a jerrycan at the Abu Shouk camp for displaced people, near El Fasher, capital of North Darfur State.

You may have read"in the news or in the recent joint UN agency statement we posted here"that the government of Sudan has revoked the licenses of 16 humanitarian organizations, suspending their activities in that country. UNICEF is not one of the organizations on the list. But the absence of so many of our very valuable partners has left us working intensely to keep water flowing, food supplies delivered and vaccines administered.

In the Darfur region of Sudan, where approximately 2.7 million people have been displaced from their homes over the last four years, aid organizations (also known as non-governmental organizations or NGOs) play a crucial role in providing lifesaving humanitarian services. That means helping to supply food, shelter, clean water, vaccines, healthcare, education and more to people who often have nothing but the clothes they are wearing. In Darfur, it's estimated that half of the 2.7 million displaced people are children. And UNICEF is deeply concerned that they continue to get the aid they so desperately need.

Wherever UNICEF works in the world, we team up with other organizations that share our goals. By partnering with other organizations on the ground, we're able to streamline response to crises and make the most of all the resources available. In Sudan, for instance, UNICEF leads coordination of the NGOs who are in the country (or were until recently) to improve water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as education.

But, as the joint UN agency statement mentions, 6,500 NGO staff"40 percent of the humanitarian workforce"are now gone from Sudan. UNICEF is working with government and remaining non-government partners to deal with immediate gaps in the provision of lifesaving services. But I'm sure it won't surprise you to learn that we"and the people of Darfur"are feeling the absence of the 16 suspended organizations acutely.

Though we are doing everything possible to meet the survival needs of the Darfuri people, UNICEF is not able to permanently replace those many essential suspended NGOs. Nor do we want to have to. In the short term, UNICEF will be stepping up staffing and relief provisioning in Darfur to help prevent the humanitarian crisis from worsening. Already, however, we're seeing effects from the removal of our NGO partners"feeding centers suspended, water and hygiene programs diminished