Sudan: Catholic Relief Services Forced to Close Food Program in Darfur

News and Press Release
Originally published
BALTIMORE, MD, March 26, 2011-Catholic Relief Services (CRS) announced today that the agency will be forced to close its food program in West Darfur, Sudan at the end of this month. The closure will deprive more than 400,000 people of vital monthly food distributions. The agency has been unable to resume its humanitarian operations in Darfur since government authorities suspended CRS operations there in late January.

"Hundreds of thousands of people have been cut off from aid," said CRS President Ken Hackett. "We call upon the Sudanese government to immediately restore the flow of food aid to the people of West Darfur by either allowing us to resume our service, or urgently finding an alternative."

In 2009, when the Sudanese government expelled 13 international aid organizations working in Sudan, CRS and other humanitarian agencies had to quickly launch a major expansion of their relief efforts to fill the aid gap. Today there are few, if any, organizations left in West Darfur able to replace the services that will be lost.

Without permission to return to Darfur, CRS will soon be forced to close all other programs there as well. In addition to food distributions, CRS supports basic education, school construction, emergency shelter, agricultural promotion, veterinary assistance, water and sanitation supply, and peacebuilding. CRS has worked in Sudan since 1972 and first responded to the Darfur crisis in 2004. CRS' services benefit more than 500,000 people in Darfur.

CRS' programs in southern Sudan and other parts of Sudan are unaffected by this situation and will continue to operate.