UNFPA chief's expulsion: Another humanitarian crackdown in Sudan?

Pamela DeLargy, United Nations Population Fund country chief in Sudan, who was expelled from the country for allegedly not abiding by its laws. Photo by: Eskinder Debebe / U.N.

The international aid community was dealt another blow this week in Sudan, when the government ordered the head of the U.N. Population Fund to leave the country.

According to the Sudanese foreign ministry, Pamela DeLargy "was not abiding by the country's laws [and] interfering in the country's domestic affairs in a manner that is inconsistent with her status as a U.N. official."

But no further details were given, so UNFPA, through the Office of the U.N. Resident Coordinator in Khartoum — which was the first one to be notified of the deportation order — is seeking clarifications on the matter.

"We regret this decision and are in communication with the U.N. country team in Sudan ... We hope that we would very soon be able to continue and re-establish normal relationships with the government of Sudan," UNFPA said in a statement.

Some humanitarians we spoke with were surprised by the incident.

Adebayo Fayoyin, regional communications adviser for UNFPA in East and Southern Africa based in Johannesburg, however, declined to comment on whether it's an isolated incident or a warning sign that international workers are again being targeted in Sudan, as was the case a few years back when the government expelled a number of iNGOs.

Researcher, analyst and Sudan expert Eric Reeves wrote in a blog post last month that Khartoum's "assault" against humanitarian groups continue.

That same month, authorities shut down the office of French aid group Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development in West Darfur, a month after suspending the activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross due to some "technical issues."

At present, UNFPA's programs in Sudan will continue. DeLargy’s case "has nothing to do with the UNFPA, whose missions and programmes are very much appreciated by my government," according to foreign ministry spokesman Abubakr al-Siddiq.

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See more:

ICRC shuts down in Sudan over 'technical issues' with Khartoum
Internal mishap? ICRC mum on suspension in Sudan

About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

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