More than 400,000 people in West Darfur, Sudan, will stop receiving monthly food rations from the Catholic Relief Services as it closes its operations in the area at the end of this month.
The Catholic aid agency said on Saturday (March 26) it will be forced to cease its food program in Darfur after the Sudanese government refused to lift January’s ban on the agency’s operations following allegations that the aid group was distributing Bibles.
“We’ve always felt we were another week away from being able to restart,” CRS country director, Darren Hercyk, told Reuters. “It’s at the point where if we’re not going to be able to do that, we’re going to have to shut [down] the program.”
The aid group said it will also “soon” be forced to close all of its programs in the Sudanese region including projects on education, school construction, emergency shelter, agricultural promotion, veterinary assistance, water and sanitation supply, and peace building.
In 2009, Sudan threw out 13 of the largest foreign aid groups working in Darfur following the International Criminal Court’s issuance of an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for alleged war crimes and genocide, Reuters reports. Observers surmise that the revocation of aid groups’ licences was in retaliation for the ICC’s move.
French aid group Medecins du Monde was expelled in Darfur on Feb. 14, and United Nations workers were denied entry into the African nation.
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