UN 'divided' over Sudan aid crisis

World body fails to condemn expulsion of aid groups following president's indictment.

    Al-Bashir has remained defiant despite the
    ICC arrest warrant [EPA]

    Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, has warned that aid operations in the troubled Darfur region would be "irrevocably damaged" and has urged Sudan to reconsider.

    And Catherine Bragg, the UN's deputy emergency relief co-ordinator who briefed the council, said one of the Darfuri refugee camps could run out of water by next week.

    Meanwhile Barack Obama, the US president, has invited the UN secretary-general to the White House next week, officials said on Friday, in which they are expected to discuss the Sudan crisis.

    Agencies accused

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    Sudan in turn accused aid agencies such as CARE and Save the Children of co-operating with the court and giving false testimony.

    "We have a full dossier of information against those organisations,'' Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamed, the Sudanese ambassador to the UN, said.

    "They are messing up everything as far as stability and security of Darfur is concerned [and] abusing the hospitality of the Sudanese people.''

    The groups have denied the accusations.

    Tthe UN's main human rights office had said earlier 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.

    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.

    Meanwhile Libya, which currently heads both the council and the African Union, said foreign ministers from the Arab League and African Union states will travel to the UN's headquarters in New York next month to urge the council to issue an appeal delaying the ICC's arrest warrant for one year.

    'Dire' consequences

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

    The US 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.

    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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