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UN concerned over Khartoum’s suspension of local NGO’s activities

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May 19, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The United Nations (UN) has expressed its concern over suspending activities of the Sudanese aid group Al- Manar which provides food for about 528 malnourished children in Khartoum’s neighbourhoods of Mayo and Mandela as well as Omdurman women’s prison.

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A tent for residents of the Mayo IDP Camp in Khartoum , May 21, 2011 (photo State Dept)

A report issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Sunday, pointed that Al- Manar was recently forced by security officials in Khartoum State to stop its projects for malnourished children in Mayo and Mandella camps for displaced people and in Omdurman women’s prison.

According to the report, earlier this month Al- Manar was forced to stop these projects when Sudanese authorities refused to grant it access permits for these areas.

"UN agencies are following up to try to ascertain the reason for closure of these projects and to advocate for them to be allowed to continue", said the report.

Al- Manar had been running projects to provide nutritional support for over 400 severely malnourished children in the camps and for 128 children who are staying with their mothers in the Omdurman women’s prison.

The report added that Al-Manar projects are funded by the United Nations Common Humanitarian Fund because reducing malnutrition and developing capacities for national Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are among priorities of the UN.

The Government of Sudan has consistently appealed to the UN to invest more in strengthening national capacities. Since 2010, the UN has doubled the amount of funding that it has channelled through national NGOs in Sudan.

Sudanese authorities are highly suspicious of the activities of NGOs. The latter are often suspected of collaborating with opposition and rebel groups or with the war crimes courts in The Hague.

Last December, three NGOs have been closed and their staff harassed and questioned by the National Security Service (NSS). They were accused of threatening national security because they receive foreign funding.

In 2008, Sudan expelled 13 foreign aid groups and suspended a few local NGOs accusing them of cooperating with the International Criminal Court (ICC) after it issued an arrest warrant for President Omer Al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the western region of Darfur. He was later accused of genocide also.

(ST)

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