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.
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.
Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex senior reporter based in Manila. Since 2011, she has covered a wide range of development and humanitarian aid issues, from leadership and policy changes at DfID to the logistical and security impediments faced by international and local aid responders in disaster-prone and conflict-affected countries in Africa and Asia. Her interests include global health and the analysis of aid challenges and trends in sub-Saharan Africa.
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