KHARTOUM (AFP) — UN humanitarian chief hails Sudan aid move
The top UN humanitarian official on Thursday welcomed a move by Sudan to allow international aid agencies into the country after 13 were expelled from war-torn Darfur in March.
"I welcome the assurances... that not only UN agencies are welcome here to work on the humanitarian side but international NGOs, national NGOs of course are welcome (including) new NGOs," John Holmes told reporters.
"There's a degree of flexibility about that which I hope will be helpful as we go forward," he said after talks with officials from Sudan's ministry for humanitarian affairs.
Senior Sudanese aid official Hassabo Mohammed Abdelrahman said on Wednesday that Khartoum was ready to allow foreign aid groups to operate in Darfur but ruled out the return of the 13 aid agencies kicked out in March. [...]
US Senator John Kerry said last month after meeting officials in Khartoum that some humanitarian aid to Darfur would be resumed. [...]
Peace talks between Khartoum and Darfur's most active rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, resumed on Wednesday in Qatar. JEM had suspended the negotiations after the ICC warrant was issued.
According to diplomatic and humanitarian sources in Khartoum, the United States has asked Sudan to allow back the expelled aid groups in return for the creation of a roadmap aimed at normalising diplomatic ties.
Khartoum and Washington have had strained relations since Beshir came into power in a 1989 coup.
The United States, which accuses Sudan of harbouring Al-Qaeda members, has imposed economic sanctions on the country since 1997.
US envoy to Sudan Scott Gration was also in the country on Thursday, on his second visit in a month, and met presidential advisor Nafie Ali Nafie.
The visits come as the rainy season is about to start in Sudan, complicating the delivery of humanitarian aid to Darfur where outbreaks of diseases are feared.
Suspected cases of meningitis have already been reported in several camps for displaced people in Darfur.
Gration also held talks on Thursday with Sudan's first Vice President Salva Kiir, who also heads the semi-autonomous government in south Sudan.
The two discussed implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, a peace deal signed between north and south Sudan in 2005 to end a bitter decades-long civil war.
Recent tribal clashes in southern Sudan raised fears of another deadly conflict in the region and a deterioration of the humanitarian situation.
The CPA stipulated general elections in 2009 which have been delayed to 2010.
"We want to see elections carried out, elections that are credible," Gration told reporters.
Labels: Gration on US sanctions, Kiir