Christophe Fournier, President of Médecins Sans Frontières, responding to the expulsion of MSF Holland and MSF France from Darfur, Sudan.
First of all, let me tell you what has happened to us. On Monday, three days ago, we were told by the Sudanese authorities to immediately remove all our international staff from various locations in the Southern and Western parts of Darfur, because the Sudanese authorities were arguing that they were not in a position to provide the security to our teams especially when the decision of the International Criminal Court was to be announced. We protested but we were told we had no choice but to remove 70 of our international humanitarian aid workers from Darfur at that moment.
On Wednesday, yesterday, we were told that the Dutch section of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was expelled from the country and that our colleagues would have to leave the country immediately, without any explanation. And then, this morning, the French section of MSF was told the same - to leave the country immediately. Other big international humanitarian agencies, a total of 13 at this moment, have also been told to immediately leave the country.
So what are the consequences for the population today in Darfur? De facto the Government of Darfur has decided to stop the humanitarian aid that is being provided to the populations of Darfur. As you may know, two million people are displaced in Darfur, the vaste majority of whom are dependent on a daily basis on international, external humanitarian aid; for water, for food, for shelter, and medical care, and they won’t have this aid provided anymore, as it is not possible for the remaining agencies, including the three MSF sections left there, to cover the needs of the population, spread around a region the size of France.
This is totally unacceptable. It is unacceptable because we, Médecins Sans Frontières, are a totally independent and impartial organisation. This is very well known. We have nothing to do with the International Criminal Court, we do not cooperate with the International Criminal Court, we do not provide them with any information. So we are held hostage, we and the population are held hostage to political and judicial processes. And this is totally unacceptable. We do not want to comment on the decision of the International Criminal Court or the position of the Sudanese Government with regard to the decision of the ICC.
We are only a medical organisation that is willing to continue daily medical care, and life saving care, to the population of Darfur, and we have to be able to do so. As an example, we have seen Meningitis erupting in several different IDP camps in southern and western Darfur. We were planning to vaccinate over 100,000 people. Nobody else will be able to do this. That is just one example. So I am calling here for the Government of Sudan and President Bashir himself to reconsider his position. I am really urging him to reconsider his position because there is no way the remaining agencies allowed to work in Darfur will be able to cover the needs of the population today.