Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sudan suspends UN work in Darfur over UN airlift of SLA-Minnawi's Suleiman to S Kordofan

BBC report today Sunday, 25 June 2006, 08:14 GMT 09:14 UK:
Sudan has ordered the United Nations to partially suspend its operations in the conflict-hit Darfur region.

Khartoum accuses the UN of giving a helicopter lift to a rebel leader who opposes a recent peace deal.

The ban does not affect the work of the UN children's agency, Unicef, or of the World Food Programme, another UN body.

The UN is conducting the world's largest humanitarian operation in Darfur, where up to 300,000 people have died in three years of civil war.
[I've just awoken to this news. Not yet had a chance to check out other reports. More later]

By Reuters' Opheera McDoom... [link via POTP with thanks]

Sudan has suspended the work of a U.N. mission in its violent Darfur region after accusing the world body of transporting a rebel leader who opposes a recent peace deal, a Sudanese official said on Sunday.

"The suspension applies for all of Darfur and this will continue until we get an explanation," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Jamal Ibrahim.

He said the ban was imposed because a U.N. helicopter had moved rebel leader Suleiman Adam Jamous, who rejects a peace deal signed on May 5.

It excludes two bodies affiliated to the U.N. mission, the World Food Programme and the U.N. children's agency (UNICEF), Ibrahim said.

U.N. spokeswoman Radhia Achouri said the mission had not received any formal communication from the government.

"We have also seen the media reports but we have not received any formal and official confirmation of this from the government of Sudan," she said.

She declined to comment on whether the United Nations had moved rebel leader Jamous in a helicopter.

After three years of revolt in Sudan's remote west, tens of thousands have been killed and 2.5 million forced into miserable camps, creating one of the worst humanitarian crises and sparking the world's largest aid operation.

Only one of three rebel factions negotiating in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, signed the African Union-mediated deal and tens of thousands in Darfur have demonstrated, at times violently, against it.

They say it does not meet their basic demands of proper compensation for war victims or enough political posts and the rebels want to monitor the disarmament of pro-government militias, known locally as Janjaweed.

Elderly Jamous was the respected humanitarian coordinator for the main rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) before it split in November last year. He was the main contact for the more than 14,000 aid workers in the region.

"He was picked up by the U.N. helicopter between el-Fasher and Musbat," Ibrahim said, referring to areas in North Darfur.

"The authorities were not consulted, no permission was asked for and it was clear negligence," he said, adding it was a 'flagrant violation' of the sovereignty of Sudan.

The leader of the SLA faction who signed the deal, Minni Arcua Minnawi, had imprisoned Jamous for his opposition to the deal, rights groups and other rebel leaders said.

U.N. officials and other rights groups had been involved in securing his release.

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