SUDAN WATCH: Sudan says 'door open' for foreign NGOs but not those expelled

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sudan says 'door open' for foreign NGOs but not those expelled

May 06, 2009 KHARTOUM (AFP) —
Sudan says 'door open' for foreign NGOs
Sudan is ready to allow foreign NGOs to operate in the war-torn region of Darfur but rules out the return of 13 aid agencies expelled in March, a senior official said on Wednesday.

Hassabo Mohammed Abdelrahman, head of the government's Humanitarian Aid Commission, was speaking at a joint news conference with visiting UN humanitarian chief John Holmes.

"For the expelled 13 NGOs, it is finished. But this decision at this degree does not close the door for any new NGOs, American, British, French, whatever, with new names and new logos," Abdelrahman told reporters.

"The door is open. Any new NGO that fulfills the criteria is most welcome," he said.

Khartoum expelled the non-governmental organisations and local aid groups after the International Criminal Court in March issued an arrest warrant for its President Omar al-Beshir over alleged crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Sudan accused the NGOs of spying and working for the ICC.

The United Nations says 300,000 people have died -- many from disease and hunger -- and 2.7 million others been made homeless by the Darfur conflict which erupted in 2003.

Khartoum puts the death toll at 10,000.

Holmes said he was in Sudan "to review the humanitarian situation following the expulsion of the NGOs" which "left some serious capacity gaps which we need to fill in order to make sure there is no unnecessary humanitarian crisis."

The UN humanitarian chief stressed that health and sanitation were the most problematic areas, particularly with the rainy season approaching, raising fears of the spread of cholera.

Several cases of suspected meningitis cases have been reported in Darfur camps for the displaced.


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