April 23, 2009 / 9:05 PM / 10 years ago

UN warning about Darfur is 'a big lie'-Sudan envoy

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, April 23 (Reuters) - The United Nations was lying when it said at least 1 million people in Sudan’s conflict-torn Darfur region were in serious danger due to the expulsion of some foreign aid organizations, Sudan’s U.N. envoy said on Thursday.

In a recent report to the U.N. Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the decision to expel 13 foreign and three domestic humanitarian aid organizations had put "over 1 million people at life-threatening risk" in Darfur.

Sudan’s U.N. ambassador, Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem, dismissed the report.

"It’s a big lie," he told reporters when asked about Ban’s estimate. "They are very good at dramatizing things. You will never find a report coming out of this body saying something positive about the situation."

He said there were no problems in Darfur and that "everything is positive."

"There is now calm in Darfur," Abdalhaleem said. "No starvation."

The United Nations has said the expelled aid groups accounted for more than half of the aid distribution capacity in Darfur. That, Abdalhaleem said, was another "big lie."

"The volume is 4.7 percent," he said, referring to the amount of aid the 16 groups were responsible for.

Sudan said it expelled the humanitarian aid agencies because they collaborated with the Hague-based International Criminal Court, which issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir last month.

The court charged Bashir with plotting mass killings and deportations in Darfur in western Sudan.

A joint U.N.-Sudanese assessment of the situation in Darfur found that the removal of the aid personnel there had created a gap in the delivery of supplies and services across Darfur, an area roughly the size of France.

The Sudanese envoy said other aid agencies that were committed to humanitarian ideals were welcome to come to Darfur to help fill the aid distribution gap.

U.N. officials say as many as 300,000 people have been killed and more than 2.7 million driven from their homes in Darfur in almost six years of ethnic and political violence.

Khartoum, however, says 10,000 people have died. Some 4.7 million people rely on humanitarian aid in Darfur.





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