The British-based humanitarian NGO Merlin, which became part of Save the Children in July 2013, has been forced to cease its work in Darfur owing to a ‘legal technicality’. The move will impact on some 600,000 Darfuris, who have been receiving a range of life-saving medical care from Merlin, which has been operating in Sudan since 1997.
According to Mohamed Adam, Humanitarian Aid Commissioner (HAC) for West Darfur, the Sudanese law for humanitarian work “does not allow for this (Merlin-Save the Children) merger”. Speaking to Radio Dabanga from state capital El Geneina, Commissioner Adam said that his office received notice from the organisation and a notice to their employees to end their work.
He said that his Commission “must now look for another organisation suitable to pick-up the functions left vacant by the departure of Merlin. In West Darfur alone, the NGO operates up to ten health centres in El Geneina, Beida, and Kereinik localities,” he said.
According to Merlin’s website (see link below), they “support 28 permanent health facilities in Sudan, and conduct mobile health clinics in many other locations, to ensure Merlin can reach people in the most remote places”.
The Commissioner also highlighted Merlin’s role in setting-up incentives and providing training to workers in government health centres in West Darfur.
Representatives of the displaced of West Darfur strongly condemned the expulsion of Merlin, and appealed for their return.
A representative of the camps told Radio Dabanga that the departure of the NGOs is disastrous. “Merlin provided wide-ranging humanitarian services to the displaced of West Darfur, including health, water, roads, and food,” he said. “That there is no provision in the law for them is simply unjust. It is the aim of the government to prevent organisations from seeing the suffering and violations the displaced endure and reporting it ti the international community.”
The representative called on the government of Sudan to “stop its policies against humanitarian organisations that provide essential services, especially in the field of health and treatment; services which the government itself cannot provide.”
Several international organisations, including the International Committee of the Red Cross and the French Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED) have had their operations curtailed by the Sudanese government’s hardening policies with regard to granting permits for such organisations and their employees.
The humanitarian situation in the camps for the displaced seriously deteriorated after Sudan expelled 13 foreign organisations operating in Darfur in response to the International Criminal Court’s issuing of an arrest warrant for President Omar Al Bashir in 2009.
Link:andnbsp;Merlins’ work in Sudan
File photo: A Merlin health care worker examines a mother and her child (Picture by Merlin)