Sudan has ordered two senior relief officials in the western region of Darfur to leave the country, after the International Criminal Court added genocide to the list of charges against President Omar al-Bashir over the seven-year conflict there.
AFP - Sudan has issued expulsion orders against two top relief officials in Darfur after the International Criminal Court charged President Omar al-Beshir with genocide over the seven-year conflict there, aid officials said on Thursday.
Both officials work for the International Organisation for Migration, an inter-governmental agency separate from the United Nations, the relief officials told AFP.
"The Sudanese authorities handed Laura Palatini and Carla Martinez a letter ordering them to leave the country within 72 hours," one relief official said, implying a Saturday deadline for their departure.
The letters came just two days after the ICC levelled the additional genocide charge against Beshir.
The Sudanese president already faces war crimes charges and charges of crimes against humanity over his government's alleged use of proxy Arab militias in a scorched earth campaign against ethnic minority civilians in the region.
When the ICC issued a warrant for Beshir's arrest for the other charges in March last year, the Sudanese government expelled 13 relief organisations from Darfur.
Martinez, a Spaniard, is the IOM's director in the war-torn western region. Palatini, an Italian, head's the organisation's office in South Darfur state, aid officials said.
"I have no comment," was all that the IOM's head of mission for Sudan, Jill Hilke, would say when asked about the expulsion orders.
There was no immediate explanation from the Sudanese authorities for the expulsion orders.
Darfur, an arid region the size of France, has been gripped by civil war since ethnic minority rebels rose up in 2003.
The conflict has killed 300,000 people and left 2.7 million homeless, according to UN figures. Khartoum says 10,000 people have died.
In Darfur, the IOM has the mandate to oversee the return to their homes of the hundreds of thousands displaced by the conflict, many of whom sought refuge in huge tent cities where they were prey to rape and other abuses.
The home villages and ancestral lands of the displaced have in many cases been expropriated, often by government-sponsored militiamen and their families making their return to their homes one of the most sensitive issues in resolving the conflict.
Beyond Darfur, the IOM is responsible for organising the voting of south Sudanese living in the north in a promised referendum on the region's independence scheduled for January.
The IOM's projects in Sudan are funded by Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and the United States as well as the European Union executive arm, the European Commission.