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Africa

Sudan lets expelled aid agencies back in

©

Video by Mélodie PROUST

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-06-12

Humanitarian aid agencies that were expelled from Darfur in March 2009 are being allowed back in, according to UN humanitarian chief John Holmes. Sudan had accused these agencies of spying for the International Criminal Court.

AFP - Sudan is allowing aid agencies expelled last March over war crimes charges against its president to return to Darfur and some will be restarting their operations, the UN humanitarian chief said here Thursday.
   
"The (Sudanese) government has said that not only existing NGOs are welcome but new NGOs are welcome and as they put it, new NGOs with new names and new logos," John Holmes said.
   
"So I think that possibility is there for all the organizations which were expelled and some of them already have taken advantage of it. They now got very recently new registrations and will be restarting their operations," he added.
   
"It remains to be seen how quickly they (NGOs) can restart their operations and how fully," Holmes, the UN air relief coordinator said. "But still it is a welcome development and I hope that will actually result in extra capacity."
   
Khartoum expelled the non-governmental organizations and local aid groups after the International Criminal Court (ICC) in March issued an arrest warrant for its president, Omar al-Beshir, over alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur.
   
Sudan accused the NGOs of spying and working for the ICC.
   
"We have made some good progress, I think, with the (Khartoum) government in trying to create a more positive atmosphere following the very negative atmosphere which was there (after the ICC issued its arrest warrant for Beshir)," Holmes said. "Some useful agreements have been reached for example on multi-entry visas for NGO staff which we did not have before."
   
Monday, Beshir denounced the ICC arrest warrant as an "infringement" on his country's sovereignty.
   
"Such a move ushers a new era of domination and infringement upon the independence and sovereignty of Sudan," he told a summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in the Zimbabwean resort town of Victoria Falls.
   
Beshir called the charges a "falsity" aimed at breaking apart his country.
   
The Sudanese leader has travelled to other countries without treaty obligations to the ICC and tried to rally support around Africa for a suspension of the warrant.
   
The United Nations says up to 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have fled their homes since ethnic minority rebels in Darfur rose up against the Arab-dominated regime in Khartoum in February 2003.
   
Sudan says 10,000 have been killed.

Date created : 2009-06-11

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