The United States joins the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in urging the Government of Sudan to immediately renew the necessary work permits for twenty UNHCR international staff providing humanitarian assistance and protection to hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the conflict in Darfur.
The failure to renew UNHCR staff permits is particularly unfortunate, as it comes in the context of deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions in Darfur and the forcible displacement of over 300,000 persons this year -- more than the total number of displaced persons in Darfur over the past two years. This will affect UNHCR’s ability to conduct its critical, lifesaving programs in several sectors including health, emergency shelter and provision of non-food items.
This recent tightening of restrictions on humanitarian actors in Darfur, including UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations, raises serious concerns about the Government of Sudan’s willingness to uphold the promises it made in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, and raises questions regarding the viability of this peace accord. We call on the Sudanese Government and all rebel groups to engage without preconditions in an effective and inclusive political process to achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict. We call on the Government of Sudan to allow UNHCR and all humanitarian actors unfettered humanitarian access to all parts of Darfur to protect and to assist the victims of the conflict and to support the implementation of the peace agreements. The people of Darfur deserve peace and stability now.