Sudan: Arab states could be linked to mass deaths if…

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Analysts are cautioning Arab states, who have rallied in support of Omar el-Bashir against the international arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), to at least demand the Sudanese leader to allow the 13 humanitarian agencies back into the country if not they will be linked to the mutual support of the deaths of millions of people. According to the United Nations’s humanitarian head John Holmes more than a million people in Darfur could go without food rations by May unless new aid agencies are deployed in the country.

In protest of an arrest warrant issued against him by the International Criminal Court, early March, charging him with war crimes and crimes against humanity, President Omar Bashir decided to expel 13 international aid agencies from Sudan.

Faced with the expulsion of the international humanitarian agencies, the remaining thin layer of aid agencies, left with the gargantuan task of reaching the masses of sudanese whose lives depend on humanitarian aid, are under constant violent threats from rebels. Two people were killed and 600 shelters were destroyed after a rebel attack at the Abuza humanitarian camp for displaced people, on Tuesday. The rebel Justice and Equality Movement have blamed state-backed militias for the attack.

Mr. Bashir has been accused of backing such atrocities against civilians in Darfur, where his Arab-led government has been accused for attacking black African populations since 2003 in a bid to take over oil-rich Darfur. Over 300,000 people have been killed and 2.6 million have been displaced. The attacks have continued despite the international arrest warrant issued against him.

Mr. Bashir who has disregarded the arrest warrant placed on him has taken trips to Eritrea and Egypt. “The arrest warrant is not worth the ink that it is written with – and this is the message of this trip,” he told Reuters news agency. Many African and Arab states, along with Sudan’s key ally China, have called for the ICC warrant to be suspended, arguing it will distort efforts to bring peace to Darfur.

Countries in support of the ICC are expected to arrest Mr. Bashir should he enter their territory, however, according to analysts, Egypt and other Arab countries will not heed to the ICC warrant as they stand behind another arab leader. Analysts have also insisted that unless these countries make it a condition for Mr. Bashir to allow aid agencies into the country, albeit their mutual support against his arrest, to safeguard a looming crisis, they would be giving their stamp of approval for further mass deaths of the Sudanese people.

Ali Youssef Ahmed, head of protocol at Sudan’s foreign ministry said: “The president will continue to travel to countries that are against the ICC – and there are many of these countries.”

However, Mr. John Holmes has accused Mr. Bashir’s government of not doing enough to fill the gaps in aid provisions as research has shown that if measures are not put in place, over a million people in Darfur could go without food rations by May.

For the time being “the lives of millions are at stake and it is up to friendly Arab states to convince Omar el-Bashir to allow the humanitarian agencies back into the country to safeguard this foreseeable crisis”.

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