Report: Refugee agency expelled from Darfur

/ Source: Reuters

Sudan has expelled the International Organization for Migration from South Darfur state, accusing the agency of inciting the 2.5 million people in camps not to return home, state media said on Wednesday.

U.N. and International Organization for Migration officials said they had not been informed of the decision, which the state-owned Sudanese Media Center said was taken by local authorities in South Darfur state.

“The government of South Darfur state has decided to expel the International Organization for Migration from the state,” Sudanese Media Center  said on Wednesday. Sudanese Media Center has close links with Sudanese state security.

The Geneva-based International Organization for Migration is an inter-governmental organization which promotes humane and orderly migration.

The Sudanese Media Center  quoted assistant humanitarian commissioner in South Darfur Sarour Ahmed Abdallah as saying the International Organization for Migration representative was discouraging those languishing in miserable camps from returning home to their villages.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

Sudan denies obstructing aid workers, but accuses many of making political statements about the conflict.

Aid work often obstructed
Sudan is suspicious of international aid agencies and often obstructs their work by restricting their movement, despite a signed moratorium guaranteeing their freedom of access to Darfur, where the world’s largest humanitarian operation is underway.

Last week the Norwegian Refugee Council said it was being forced to withdraw from South Darfur because of obstruction and continued suspensions by authorities.

Experts estimate that 200,000 have been killed in 3-1/2 years of conflict in Darfur. Mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003 accusing central government of marginalizing the remote west.

Khartoum armed militias to quell the revolt. Those militia stand accused of a campaign of rape, murder and looting called genocide by Washington.

Khartoum denies genocide but the International Criminal Court is investigating alleged war crimes in Darfur.

U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland arrived in Sudan on Wednesday ahead of a trip to Darfur after weeks of delay by Khartoum.

Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha has so far declined to meet him and the government has said security is unsafe for him to travel to any of his proposed destinations in Darfur outside the state capitals.

Authorities have also said U.S. journalists travelling with his delegation cannot go to Darfur. Egeland, outspoken about the conflict, has been denied access to Darfur on previous trips.