Khartoum’s Big Stick

Khartoum needs no excuse to make life difficult for the international charities that operate in Darfur. Now Zoe’s Ark has handed them a perfect reason to get tough on organisations trying to dish up food or provide water to some four million people.

Newsweek has taken a look at this issue. But I think they’ve missed the point by conflating this episode with the damage done on the advocacy side of things by the Save Darfur Coalition.

The real issue here is the impact that irresponsible charity workers can have on more reputable outfits.

Take Darfur. I understand that country directors of all the international NGOs operating there were called in by the commissioner general of Sudan’s Humanitarian Affairs Commission on Thursday to be read the riot act. The actions of Zoe’s Ark in neighbouring Chad have placed them all under suspicion. They were left in no doubt that they could expect greater scrutiny and more problems moving workers around the country. I am told that French aid workers are already being denied visas to enter Sudan or permits to travel to Darfur. Ministers have been quoted in the local press accusing Unicef of child smuggling.

The charges are clearly ridiculous. And no-one in the Khartoum government can really believe them. But that doesn’t matter.

As one of my pals in the aid world said: “This whole thing has given Khartoum a big stick and all the signs are that they are going to use it.”

One thought on “Khartoum’s Big Stick

  1. There’s reason to treat each group with innocence untill discovered otherwise, which means Darfur, which still needs the aid organisations, should place the plight of children first.

    However, the action of Zoe’s Ark is testimony that not all players in war torn areas are 100% humanitarian as is automatically beleived.

    My worry however is that the members of this group still held in N’Djamea will go free. There’s nothing wrong with going free, but such acts of inhumanity, despise of children need a deterrent.

    If they will be released, the let it be out of willful presidential clemency and not what Sarkozy has said.” freeing them no matter what, just because they are French/Europeans.

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