Sudan expels UN agency chief accused of ‘interference’

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Sudan, UNKHARTOUM: Sudan has expelled the country chief of a United Nations agency and accused her of interfering in domestic affairs, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

The incident is the latest involving foreign aid workers in the restive African nation where millions need humanitarian assistance.

Pamela DeLargy, an American who headed the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) office in Sudan, “was asked to leave”, ministry spokesman Abubakr al-Siddiq said.

“Because she was not abiding by the country’s laws, and also because she was interfering in the country’s domestic affairs in a manner that is inconsistent with her status as a UN official,” he said.

DeLargy left Sudan on Tuesday, the officer currently in charge of UNFPA’s Sudan office said.

“We regret to inform that the reasons for the government decision for Miss Pamela DeLargy to leave the country have not been communicated to the UNFPA,” she said.

UNFPA has a “long and strong partnership” with the government and other agencies in Sudan and remains committed to fulfilling the agreed goals, the officer said.

Siddiq, of the foreign ministry, said DeLargy’s case “has nothing to do with the UNFPA whose missions and programmes are very much appreciated by my government.” Sudanese officials regularly express a willingness to work with UN agencies and foreign aid groups but say they have to follow regulations.

On February 1, Khartoum suspended activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross, accusing it of violating guidelines for working in the country. Aid workers have expressed concern about access to Sudan’s estimated 6.1 million people in need, more than half of whom are in the war-torn western region of Darfur.

Since late February, about 280,000 people in Darfur have been displaced or otherwise affected by fresh fighting.

Although aid access has improved in recent days, insecurity and the denial of entry by authorities had limited agencies’ ability to reach those needy, the UN said.

In the war zones of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, authorities have also restricted the movement of aid workers, and there has been no access to rebel-held areas from within Sudan.

Authorities say restrictions are necessary to ensure the safety of aid workers.

Few Americans: UNFPA supports reproductive health services such as emergency obstetric and neonatal care, and assistance for fistula survivors.It has helped train hundreds of village midwives, and also works to prevent violence against women, including female genital mutilation. Sudan ranks near the bottom of the UN’s Human Development Index.—

Source: AFP

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