Sudan expels two senior aid officials from Darfur
Friday 16 July 2010
July 15, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — The Sudanese government today expelled two senior aid officials from the restive region amid speculations that it is connected to the genocide charges levelled this week by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir.
The spokesperson of the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM) Jean-Philippe Chauzy said in a statement that they have been by the Sudanese authorities that two of their staff members were asked to leave the country. He did not provide their names.
A relief source speaking to Agence France Presse (AFP) said that Khartoum handed Laura Palatini and Carla Martinez a letter on Wednesday ordering them to leave the country within 72 hours.
Martinez, a Spaniard, is the IOM’s director in the war-torn western region. Palatini, an Italian, head’s the organisation’s office in South Darfur state. Sudan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Muawiya Khalid, said the agency’s employees had violated the conditions of the original agreement with the agency and were declared persona non-grata.
But the IOM spokesperson said they were not given an explanation to the reasons behind the decision but stressed that this development " will seriously impact on its capacity to continue its humanitarian work in Darfur".
"IOM’s programmes in Darfur include the transportation of all non-food items (NFIs) and assistance for United Nations agencies and NGOs providing humanitarian assistance to IDPs in Darfur. IOM took over the NFI common pipeline after CARE was expelled in March 2009".
CARE along with a dozen aid agencies were kicked out of Darfur after the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Bashir last year for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
"IOM manages the database of aid beneficiaries for all organizations providing assistance in Darfur, particularly WFP, and is currently updating it to ensure a more accountable and properly targeted assistance programme in Darfur for the benefit of the aid beneficiaries, humanitarian organizations and donors working in Darfur".
"In Darfur, under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Sudanese Government signed in 2004, IOM assesses and ensures that any return or relocation of displaced persons is both voluntary (i.e. without deception or coercion and is based on the provision of unbiased information) and appropriate (i.e. in dignity and safety, and with good chances of sustainability)".
In Paris, the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur condemned the decision by Khartoum.
"This is to be expected by the Sudanese regime since the world has decided to turn a blind eye to the evil things they do and continue a policy of appeasement that only emboldened them" Al-Nur said.
"You cannot expect those who kill our people to care for their well being and ensuring that they receive the aid and support they need. They cannot let Khartoum control the relief process to the Darfuri people. A Chapter VII resolution must be adopted to transfer such powers to the U.N. to prevent the government from starving them and exposing them to hunger and disease" he added.