TEARFUND’s office in Sudan has been closed, at the request of the country’s government.
The charity’s offices across the country were visited by government officials on 14 December. They requested closure until further notice. On Wednesday of last week, a statement from the charity confirmed that: “Despite efforts to clarify the situation and resume our humanitarian activities, it is with extreme disappointment that we have now received notification from the government that our work in Sudan is to be closed down.”
Tearfund has worked in Darfur since 2004, and provided 300,000 people each year with humanitarian aid, including feeding centres, clean water, and safe environments. Before closure, it was providing care for 30,000 acutely malnourished children and nursing mothers per year.
The statement said that it was “deeply distressed” by the impact of the closure. The charity was “liaising with government officials, donors, other NGOs and the UN as a matter of urgency, to ensure the critical needs of these vulnerable people continue to be met”.
On Wednesday, a statement from the EU, one of Tearfund’s donors, expressed concern that there had been “no official communication from the government of Sudan giving details about the reasons for this decision, despite several recent requests from the EU and other donors”.
The ambassadors of the resident EU embassies, and Norway, in Khartoum, urged the Sudanese government “to continue ensuring that humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable people in Sudan be guaranteed, in order to save lives and secure livelihoods”.
In 2009, the Sudanese government expelled or closed down 16 relief organisations, including Oxfam and Médecins sans Frontières, after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes.