Sudan Lifts Restrictions on Aid Agencies

KHARTOUM - Sudan’s transitional government has removed laws, rules and procedures that hampered the ability of humanitarian relief organizations to operate in the country.  The move is being welcomed by relief agencies that say humanitarian aid access is needed to restore life to normal in the war-scarred Darfur region.
Sudanese authorities say that all obstacles the ousted government of Omar al-Bashir put in place to obstruct the work of humanitarian organizations and United Nations agencies have been removed.
In a statement Friday, the head of Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission, Abbas Fadlallah, said “Sudan has opened the door wide for the return of all international humanitarian organizations that were expelled during the era of the former regime.”
They include organizations like the World Food Program and the World Health Organization.
Under the new rules, international aid agencies no longer have to get permission from the General Intelligence Service (GIS) and military intelligence to operate in the country. Notifying the Humanitarian Aid Commission is sufficient. Authorities will also halt their inspections of aid agency operations.  
Ayman al-Badry, director of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Sudan, says he is happy to see the restrictions lifted.
He says it is so important and a turning point, especially in observing and following up field work.  He says organizations have funds from donors who want to see where the money is spent and who’s benefiting it, and that can only be implement through access to these locations. Previously, many organizations relied on Sudan’s government reports or executive agencies, which had a lack of credibility.  He says now there’s a chance for more credibility.
Aid agencies are especially eager to access Darfur, where the Bashir government fought rebel groups for years.  At one time, more than 2 million people were displaced from their homes.
Twenty-three-year-old Mawada Yaqoup lives in the Zamzam camp for displaced people. She says the return of aid agencies will make a difference.
Mawada says getting non-governmental organizations back to work in Darfur is so important for internally displaced people like her, especially in the camp she lives in where previously aid workers were harassed by the former regime and NGOs couldn’t work well.  Now if they come back, people will have the humanitarian aid needed.
Officials say the decision is part of ongoing peace talks between the transitional government and rebel groups in South Sudan's capital, Juba.  The sides are hoping to reach a final peace agreement to stabilize Sudan and allow the country to access international funding for the first time in years.


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