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Sudan allows some aid groups to return

Associated Press

The Sudanese government is allowing four aid organizations expelled from the country after its president was accused of war crimes to return under slightly different names, the U.N. humanitarian chief said Thursday.

Sudan ordered 13 of the largest international aid groups to leave in early March, accusing them of cooperating and giving false testimony to the International Criminal Court, which issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country’s Darfur region. The aid groups deny the accusations.

John Holmes, head of U.N. humanitarian aid programs, who visited Sudan last month, welcomed the government’s public statements that it values help from international agencies and that new groups, including those with new names and logos, can work in the country.

“We continue to believe the expulsions unjustified, and the easiest thing is to reverse them,” he said. “Nevertheless, we have made some good progress with the government, trying to create a more positive atmosphere.”

Four of the groups have applied for new registration under slightly different names and been allowed back in, Holmes said. “I think the same possibility is open to others.”

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Holmes said CARE, Save the Children and Mercy Corps will be resuming their humanitarian work in Darfur and that PADCO will resume its work in three areas along Sudan’s disputed north-south border, all with somewhat different names. He did not say how their names had changed.


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