African organizations call on Sudan to readmit aid agencies
A series of simultaneous press conferences were held in seven African countries on Wednesday to warn that millions of people in Darfur face death and disease. African non-governmental organizations joined Amnesty International offices in Africa to call on the government of Sudan to allow aid organizations resume their operations in the country. The coalition also called on the government of Sudan to stop harassing and intimidating human rights defenders and staff of national and international aid and human rights organizations. The government of Sudan shut down the operations of 13 international and 3 national aid organizations on 4 March. Their decision followed the issue of an arrest warrant against President Omar Al Bashir of Sudan by the International Criminal Court. The aid organizations have been in Darfur since 2003 and have been providing water, food, shelter and medicines to the people of Darfur because the government was unable to provide these essential supplies. The government of Sudan has not put measures in place to ensure that aid supplies to civilians would be unaffected. The President of Sudan is reported to have indicated that the government of Sudan intends to expel all aid organizations within one year. The coalition called on the government of Sudan to reverse and not implement this decision. They also called on the African Union, especially the Peace and Security Council, to use its influence and ensure that this threat by the government is withdrawn. Press conferences were held simultaneously in Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Mali. The coalition includes Amnesty International, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, Human Rights Institute for South Africa, Access to Justice (Nigeria), Alliances for Africa (Nigeria), Centre for Rule of Law (Nigeria), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (Nigeria), Committee for Defence of Human Rights (Nigeria), Human Rights Law Service (Nigeria), Legal Defence and Assistance Project (Nigeria), National Association of Democratic Lawyers (Nigeria), Partnership for Justice (Nigeria), Socio-Economic Rights & Accountability Project (Nigeria), West African Bar Association (Nigeria), Women Advocates Research & Documentation Centre (Nigeria), Women's Consortium of Nigeria (Nigeria), Release political prisoners group (Kenya), Educational centre for women and democaracy ( Kenya) and Independent medical legal unit (Kenya).