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Deadly Meningitis Outbreak Unchecked in Camps after Humanitarian Groups Expelled from Darfur

by Karen Hirschfeld on March 11, 2009

It is already happening—Darfuris are dying—directly as a result of President Bashir’s expulsion of the humanitarian organizations.

Meningitis, a highly contagious disease, is spreading through one of Darfur’s largest camps for the internally displaced, Kalma, home to 90,000. Doctors Without Borders (known by their French name, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)), was due to begin a vaccination campaign to prevent the spread of the deadly disease when they, along with fifteen other humanitarian organizations, were expelled by the Sudanese Government.

The expulsions came the day after the International Criminal Court announced a warrant for the arrest of Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bahir. The Sudanese Government, in turn accused these groups, which together provide more than half of the aid to Darfur of using humanitarian assistance as a facade to support the ICC and even fabricating evidence of human rights violations.

Because aid organizations depend on the approval of the host government to maintain access to the populations, they remain apolitical. It’s simply unrealistic and inconceivable that all of these organizations were secretly passing information along to the International Criminal Court.

But now, more than 1.1 million people face a very bleak future. The camps are crowded and sanitary conditions will quickly deteriorate, allowing the meningitis outbreak to spread through the Kalma Camp like wildfire.

Not all the suffering will be as dramatic or immediate. The World Food Programme will not have enough partners to distribute food to all of the displaced, so people will slowly go hungry. The wells that are used by thousands of people a day to get water for cooking, drinking and bathing will break, so people will go thirsty. As Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the UN put it so succinctly, “This may well amount to genocide by other means.”

We cannot idly let this happen. Click here to take action.


Places: Sudan

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