Community leaders and internally displaced people (IDP) in North Darfur are protesting the closure of 16 health centres in the region due to the suspension of Anhar Organization for Peace. The national non-governmental organization (NGO) was expelled by North Darfur’s Department of the National Empowerment Elimination, Anti-Corruption, and Funds Recovery Committee, which was established by the transitional government in 2019 to “purge Sudan from the remnants of the al-Bashir regime.” Prior to Anhar’s suspension, no alternatives were arranged for those who rely on its services, leaving hundreds of thousands of citizens vulnerable to increased suffering.
Anhar has been described by North Darfur community leaders as “an independent and credible national organization.” It provides crucial emergency and humanitarian assistance by providing health, nutrition, water, and sanitation services to more than 169,000 people living inside and outside IDP camps in North Darfur.
The suspension of NGOs engaging in critical emergency response efforts for the people of Darfur is reminiscent of al-Bashir’s expulsion of national and international humanitarian organizations during his regime. Purging individuals and organizations engaged in crucial healthcare-related activities in the name of anti-corruption and anti-Al Bashir, is nonsensical, unsustainable and does no good for the future of the people of Sudan. Suspending Anhar without adequate alternatives to replace its work makes this even more irresponsible. The interim government must not revert back to the ways of the Bashir regime if it truly claims to be committed to change.
Community leaders also noted that this suspension comes amid a serious deterioration of the health situation in Kabkabiya, Saraf Omra, and El Fasher localities, particularly highlighting the Sortony camp in Kabkabiya which houses around 22,000 IDPs. Anhar was cooperating with other relief organizations to provide basic services to IDPs after the departure of peacekeepers from the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) condemns this gross negligence by government authorities of basic healthcare needs in North Darfur, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent surge in cases across Darfur. A snapshot of child health and nutrition in Sudan paints an abysmal picture:
- 35 percent of children under the age of 5 in Sudan are underweight.
- 700,000 children per year suffer from severe acute malnutrition in Sudan. Only 15 percent of children aged 6-23 months were provided the minimum acceptable diet. In some states this number is less than 5 percent.
- Maternal mortality ratio remains high at 216 per 100,000 live births, and neonatal mortality is estimated to be 33 per 1,000 live births.
Join DWAG in speaking out against the Sudanese government for purging NGOs that provide essential services for the people of Darfur, South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile. The people of Darfur cannot rely upon the Government of Sudan to adequately replace the work of these organizations, making them increasingly vulnerable. The careless suspension of essential health services for hundreds of thousands of Darfuri people is indicative of the gross negligence with which healthcare issues outside Khartoum are viewed and we need to hold the Government of Sudan accountable for these abhorrent actions.