Sudan expulsions 'confirm crimes'

ICC prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo criticises action against Darfur aid agencies.

    The ICC's chief prosecutor denied getting any help or information from NGOs in Darfur [EPA]
     

    "This idea to expel the humanitarians is confirming the court decision," Moreno-Ocampo said in New York after the UN Security Council met to receive an updated assessment on the Darfur crisis.
     
    "Expelling them is confirming the crimes."

    Reversal rejected

    Khartoum ordered the aid agencies out of Darfur after the ICC issued the arrest warrant, and has ruled out reversing that decision, despite pressure from the US and UN Security Council members.

    "The decision of the government of Sudan is a legitimate sovereign decision which we will never reverse," Mohamed Yousif Ibrahim Abdelmannan, Sudan's envoy to the UN, told the council on Friday.

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    "This should not be a issue for discussion."

    The UK, Austria, Uganda and several other countries have appealed to Khartoum to rethink its position.

    A rebel group in Darfur, meanwhile, announced that it was pulling out of peace talks with the Sudanese government after the aid agencies were expelled.

    "The movement cannot negotiate with the government of al-Bashir," Khalil Ibrahim, the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem), told the Reuters news agency by telephone on Friday.

    Jem signed a deal with the Sudanese government after talks in the Qatari capital, Doha, last month, under which both sides agreed to undertake "good faith" measures.

    "There was supposed to be a conference [in Doha] after three weeks but we will not go," Ibrahim said.

    'Free prisoners'

    Ibrahim said the government must allow the expelled aid agencies back into Darfur and free Jem prisoners before talks could resume.

    Ibrahim signed a 'good faith deal' with Sudan after talks in Qatar last month [EPA] 
    Rashid Khalikov, a senior UN humanitarian affairs official, told the council on Friday there were "significant signs of an erosion of humanitarian response capacity, with a concurrent impact on the lives of people in Darfur" since the 13 foreign and three domestic NGOs were expelled.

    UN officials say the banished aid groups accounted for around half of the aid-distribution capacity in Darfur.

    Sudan says the aid groups, including Oxfam, Save the Children and Care, helped the ICC issue the arrest warrant.

    The groups reject the charge.

    Moreno-Ocampo said he had received no help or information from NGOs or UN agencies in his investigation.

    UN officials say that as many as 300,000 people have died in six years of conflict in Darfur between African rebels and the Arab-dominated government. Khartoum says 10,000 have died.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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