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January 7, 2010

Sudanese agencies should plug Darfur aid gap

Sudanese agencies should plug Darfur aid gap
Thu Jan 7, 2010
By Opheera McDoom
 KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudanese aid agencies must be helped to fill in the huge gaps left in Darfur's aid operation by the expulsion of 13 humanitarian organisations last year, Oxfam America said on Thursday.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in March last year for war crimes in Darfur. He responded by expelling the major aid agencies from Darfur, leaving a hole in the world's largest humanitarian operation.  Oxfam America was one of the small agencies left in Sudan which had to step up its work to fill the gap, but country director El Fateh Osman Adam said there was still much to do. "We worked hard to address the immediate life-saving issues, provide water, sanitation," he told Reuters in an interview.  "If it was not provided we may have seen humanitarian catastrophe," he said. "But there are gaps in a number of areas, livelihood... protection... and nobody is talking about education."
Sister agency Oxfam GB was one of the largest and oldest agencies working in Sudan before being expelled last year.
Adam said his organisation's priority was to support Sudanese aid agencies to one day take the lead in the humanitarian operation in their own country.
 "It's not something that will happen in one day -- we have to have the patience until we build the capacity of our local partners," he said.
 "The expulsion showed that you can suddenly lose everything ... but if you are supporting other (local) actors then what you have done can continue."
 Adam said international aid agencies, the United Nations and the Sudanese government should all work to help local organisations to lead the aid effort themselves.
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