August 16, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan on Sunday, August 15, ordered five foreign aid workers to leave West Darfur State, only one week after president Al-Bashir publicly mandated Darfur governors to expel foreigners who "exceed their work agreements".
A UN official told Reuters yesterday that the Sudanese authorities had asked three UN staff members and two of ICRC to leave western Darfur.
"The heads of the UNHCR [U.N. refugee agency] and FAO [UN Food and Agriculture agency] in West Darfur as well as the head of UNHCR agency in Zalengei have been asked to leave," said Abdallah al-Fadil, the head of UNAMID in west Darfur.
He added to Reuters that the government also informed him “that it had asked both the ICRC’s heads of delegation in Al-Geneina and Zalengei [town] to leave too."
According to Reuters, Fadil said it was not clear why the authorities had told the staff to leave, only that they had made mistakes "beyond their mandate."
Reuters also quoted another UN source speaking on condition of anonymity as saying that the head of FAO office in West Darfur was told to leave because he had forwarded a petition against hunger without obtaining approval for it.
The local daily newspaper Ajrass al-Hurriyah reported that humanitarian officials in Darfur declined to comment on the decision but said that “it was a matter falling within the state’s jurisdictions.”
The expulsion coincided with calls by the UN’s humanitarian chief, John Holmes, on the Sudanese government to lift its aid blockade of the Kalma camp in South Darfur.
"I am extremely concerned about the welfare of the IDPs at Kalma camp, to whom we have not been able to deliver relief for 13 days," said Holmes in a press release issued on Friday.
Kalma, the largest IDP camp in southern Darfur and home to estimated 82,000 people, was two weeks the theatre of violent clashes between refugees supportive of Darfur peace talks and others opposed to them. The incidents in Kalma and the subsequent sheltering at UNAMID premises of six refugees accused by the government of instigating the violence have frayed ties between local authorities and the mission. The government insists that the mission hand over the wanted refugees and the latter demands guarantees that the six refugees would receive humane treatment and fair trials.
Earlier on July 15, Sudan expelled two aid workers from the International Organization for Migration after the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a second warrant of arrest for President Bashir on three counts of genocide allegedly committed in Darfur region.
In March 2008, Sudan expelled 13 international aid NGOs following the issuance of the first ICC’s arrest warrant for president Umar al-Bashir on charges of war crime and crimes against humanity.
NGOs in Darfur provide food and medical aid as well as access to clean water for more than 2 million people affected by the Darfur conflict which was ignited in 2003 between the central government in Khartoum and rebels accusing it of neglecting to develop the region. According to UN estimates, the conflict has claimed killed 300.000 people and driven more than 2 millions from their homes.