Home | News    Wednesday 8 December 2004

UN wants Sudan to reverse Oxfam explusion order

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GENEVA, Dec 8 (Reuters) - A top U.N. aid official has called Sudan’s decision to expel the country head of Oxfam "very bad" and says he hopes it will be reversed, as had happened in the past.

A Sudanese girl waits to use toilets set up by the Oxfam charity in the Abu Shouk refugee camp. (AFP).

Expelling aid officials was not "the way to treat those of us who come there to help," United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland told journalists on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Sudan accused Oxfam director Shaun Skelton of violating visa regulations by working in Khartoum when his permit was for Darfur, and ordered him to leave "as soon as possible."

It was the second time in little over a week that the government had sought to force Skelton out of Sudan.

But a November 29 expulsion order for the Oxfam chief and the country head of Save the Children UK was dropped after an international outcry, with the government citing administrative difficulties and humanitarian concerns.

"It is very bad," Egeland said, when asked to comment on the government move. "We are dealing with these issues on the highest levels ... and I hope we can reverse it again."

Sudan had accused Oxfam and Save the Children of dealing in political affairs, which broke the law, and of making statements it said indicated their support for rebels who launched an uprising against the government early last year.

Oxfam works mostly in sanitation, water provision and hygiene in Darfur, but also operates throughout Sudan.

The government said that Skelton was free to apply to return.

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