x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Sudanese here asked to help Darfur

The Sudanese mission appeals to its community in the UAE for financial help after its government expelled 13 international aid groups from the region.

DUBAI // The Sudanese mission has appealed to its community in the UAE for financial help in Darfur, after the government expelled 13 international aid groups from the region. In a press conference organised by the Sudan Consulate in Dubai, the Consul General, Essam Awad Mutawaly, urged fellow compatriots to come forward and help the displaced in Darfur.

In the presence of dozens of leading community members, the mission said that the funds would help the Sudanese government mobilise its own relief agencies in Darfur. "We are going to activate and use the skills of our relief agencies to replace these organisations which were removed," said Mohamed Mohamed Khair, the press information attaché for the consulate. "We have suggested that all Sudanese in the diaspora should donate to help the displaced. The displaced are victims of armed rebels. The consulate will receive funds at our centre and this would be used in Darfur."

The agencies, including Oxfam, Care and Medecins sans Frontières were told to cease all operations over allegations of passing on information to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The expulsion followed the move by the ICC last week to charge the Sudanese president, Omar al Bashir, of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The expulsion of the foreign aid groups was considered as a "knee-jerk reaction" to the ICC's decision, Mr Khair said.

However, he added: "The Sudanese mission echoed the decision taken by its government. The government has very strong evidence that these aid agencies were connected to the ICC and gave them information." The United Nations estimates that 300,000 people have died in the conflict-hit region of Darfur over the past six years while millions have been displaced. Mr Khair dispelled suggestions that the expulsion of the aid organisations would cause a food crises in Darfur.

"There will not be any lack of food or famine as our Arabian and Islamic-friendly nations have sent relief to Sudan," he said. Mr Khair said the UAE had already sent 40 tonnes of commodities to Sudan. The aircraft carrying medical and relief supplies from the UAE Red Crescent Authority landed on Thursday in Al Fasher, the capital of West Darfur. "It has been received in Sudan and distributed to the displaced by Sudanese voluntary organisations," he said. This was part of the UAE's effort to ease the humanitarian crises in the region.

He added that aid was expected from other nations in Africa as well as Saudi Arabia. The conference was called after the foreign mission received updates from the government on the situation and the position of the country. "The gathering was called to explain the current scenario back home and to also garner the support of the diaspora to help the displaced," Mr Khair said. The speakers condemned the ICC's decision and rejected the claims.

Expatriate Sudanese who gathered at the consulate said they would support the cause of Darfur. "We have agreed that everybody abroad would contribute for the cause. "The plan is to upgrade humanitarian organisations in Sudan," said Dr Abdul Rahman Abdul Aziz Mohamed, a Sudanese expatriate working at Welcare Hospital. The community is planning meetings across Dubai to gather funds and support for the cause of Darfur.

Reacting to the ICC's decision, Dr Mohamed said: "The majority of the Sudanese are convinced that the ICC decision is political. We are not concerned about it." However, others expressed fears that panic and uncertainty were widespread in the nation following the decision to charge the head of state with war crimes. pmenon@thenational.ae