| Issue 371
and Regional Affairs |
New York, March 7, 2009 – The United
Nations Security Council has failed to agree on a response to Sudan's
decision to expel 13 aid groups from the country following the
indictment of its president for war crimes.
France had reportedly urged the council on Friday to issue a non-binding
statement that condemned Sudan's decision.
However attempts to urge the council to act have been blocked by
opposition from Sudan's council allies, Libya and China, the Associated
Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, ordered the aid agencies out of
the country on Thursday, a day after the International Criminal Court at
The Hague issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of crimes against
humanity and war crimes.
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 coordinator 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.
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 organizations,''
Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamed, the Sudanese ambassador to the UN,
"They are messing up everything as far as stability and security of
Darfur is concerned [and] abusing the hospitality of the Sudanese
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.
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
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