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UN to meet over Sudan aid crisis
UN council to discuss Sudan's move to expel aid groups after indictment of president.
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2009 23:14 GMT
Rice condemned Sudan's expulsion of aid
agencies as a 'callous step' [GALLO/GETTY]

The United Nations Security Council is to meet to discuss Sudan's decision to expel several aid groups from the country following the indictment of its president for war crimes, diplomats say.

The council will also reportedly receive a briefing from a UN humanitarian official on the troubled region of Darfur, where about 4.7 million people depend on aid, the diplomats said.

The International Criminial Court, based at The Hague, issued a warrant for the arrest of Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese leader, on Wednesdady, charging him with crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Al-Bashir reacted by ordering 13 global aid operations out of the country on Thursday, but Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, warned aid operations in Darfur would be "irrevocably damaged" and urged Sudan to reconsider.

A Libyan diplomat told Reuters that his country's delegation, which holds the council's
presidency this month, would raise requests from the Arab League and African Union to meet council members to discuss suspending the ICC's proceedings against al-Bashir.

'Dire' consequences

Millions have been displaced in Sudan by the
Darfur crisis [GALLO/GETTY]

The US also said on Friday it was gravely concerned by Sudan's "reckless" decision to expel the groups, which employ about 6,500 relief workers across the region, and said it would not rule out seeking action from the council.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, said on Friday that the Sudanese government's reaction to the ICC's move was a "callous step" and said Sudan faced "immediate and dire'' consequences 

Rice also said that the aid groups' assets have been seized.

Meanwhile the UN's main human rights office also said on Friday it would examine whether Sudan's decision to expel the groups marked a breach of basic human rights and possibly a war crime, a spokesman said.

In depth

 Profile: Omar al-Bashir 
 Interview: Moreno-Ocampo
 Timeline: Darfur crisis 
 
Human rights lost in Darfur
 Peace deals in 'jeopardy'
 Video: Warrant hailed
 Your Views: What does the arrest warrant against al-Bashir mean for Sudan?

"To knowingly and deliberately deprive such a huge group of civilians of means to survive is a deplorable act,'' said Rupert Colville, spokesman for Navi Pillay, the UN human rights chief.

"To punish civilians because of a decision by the ICC is a grievous dereliction of the government's duty to protect its own people."

The ICC indicted al-Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which include murder, rape and torture, but said it had insufficient evidence to bring a charge of genocide.

Al-Bashir has dismissed the court's move as a ploy by Western powers and the move has led to angry protests in the nation's capital, Khartoum.

The UN says that up to 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur, although Sudan maintains that only 10,000 people have died, while a further 2.7 million people are estimated to have been uprooted by the conflict.

Source:
Agencies
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