Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Conflict: Sudan Gov’t lifts ban on UN Darfur operations

Suleiman Mohamed Jamous, humanitarian coordinator and senior leader within the SLM/A faction of Minni Minnawi in Musbat, northwest North Darfur State.

The Sudanese government has lifted the restrictions it imposed on Monday on United Nations relief operations across the western region of Darfur.

"The Sudanese government decided, effective today, to reverse its decision to suspend UN Mission in Sudan [UNMIS] activities in Darfur," Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, told reporters in New York.

The restrictions were lifted following a meeting between the Secretary-General's Principal Deputy Special Representative, Taye Brook Zerihoun, and the Sudanese undersecretary for foreign affairs, Mutrif Siddiq, in Khartoum.

The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement issued on Saturday, said it had instructed local authorities in Darfur to suspend all UNMIS activities in the three Darfur states, except those of two affiliated agencies: the UN Children's Fund (Unicef) and the World Food Programme which provide life-saving aid to millions of people in the region.

The government accused UNMIS of exceeding its mandate in Darfur when it allegedly transported a commander of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) by helicopter on Saturday and demanded an explanation.

The foreign ministry said it considered the incident, "a flagrant violation of the country's sovereignty and a violation of the agreement under which the UN operates in Sudan."

The rebel commander, Suleiman Mohamed Jamous, was the humanitarian coordinator for the SLM/A before it split in November 2005 and the main rebel contact for the approximately 14,000 humanitarian aid workers in Darfur. Jamous was a member of Minni Minnawi's SLM/A faction who signed the Darfur Peace Agreement on 5 May, but was imprisoned for his opposition to the peace deal.

Sources in the region said that the government's decision to suspend UN operations in Darfur had not been formally communicated to UNMIS and had not resulted in the interruption of UN relief operations.

Reproduced with the kind permission of IRIN
IRIN 2006
Photo: Copyright
Derk Segaar/IRIN
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