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Sudan notifies Tearfund about closure of all activities

January 16 - 2016 KHARTOUM
A nutrition centre of Tearfund in Darfur (Tearfund)
A nutrition centre of Tearfund in Darfur (Tearfund)

The UK-based aid organisation Tearfund has said it is “deeply distressed” about the government’s decision to permanently close down its services in Sudan. 

In December last year, government officials raided the charity’s offices in Nierteti, Central Darfur, and ordered to close them “until further notice”. The charity released an updated press statement this week saying it has now been told that its “work in Sudan is to be closed down”. 

“Despite efforts to clarify the situation and resume our humanitarian activities, it is with extreme disappointment that we have now received notification from the government that our work in Sudan is to be closed down. [...] We are deeply distressed by the impact the decision to close our services will have and are liaising with government officials, donors, other NGOs and the UN as a matter of urgency, to ensure the critical needs of these vulnerable people continue to be met.”

The statement added that: "The many vulnerable people we work with in Sudan continue to be our greatest concern, particularly the malnourished children who have been reliant on our services. Tearfund has provided 300,000 people each year with life-saving humanitarian support, including feeding centres, clean drinking water, improved sanitation and food production, as well as providing safe environments for children and assisting with local education. Prior to closure, Tearfund was providing care to 30,000 acutely malnourished children and nursing mothers per year.

Tearfund has worked in the Sudanese region of Darfur since 2004, providing support to those affected by the conflict in the area. It was not among the 13 foreign organisations expelled from Sudan in response to the International Criminal Court’s issuing of an arrest warrant for President Omar Al Bashir in 2009. Tearfund provides health and nutrition services in Central Darfur's Um Dukhum and Nierteti, in Ed Daein, capital of East Darfur, and in Kass in South Darfur. It has support bases in Nyala (South Darfur), Zalingei (Central Darfur), and Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. 

Its offices in Nierteti were raided by security forces on 14 December, and “seized all the materials, equipment, and devices, including more than SDG250,000 ($39,220) cash in the treasurer’s safe, and personal belongings of the staff members,” an eyewitness reported to Radio Dabanga. On 16 December the NGO stated it was “actively seeking the Government’s direction on how to proceed in order to resume our humanitarian activities”.

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