News24

Sudan expels 2 Darfur aid chiefs

2010-07-15 17:02

Khartoum - Sudan has issued expulsion orders against two top relief officials in Darfur after the International Criminal Court charged President Omar al-Bashir with genocide over the seven-year conflict there, aid officials said on Thursday.

Both officials work for the International Organisation for Migration, an inter-governmental agency separate from the United Nations, the relief officials said.

"The Sudanese authorities handed Laura Palatini and Carla Martinez a letter ordering them to leave the country within 72 hours," one relief official said, implying a Saturday deadline for their departure.

The letters came just two days after the ICC leveled the additional genocide charge against Bashir.

The Sudanese president already faces war crimes charges and charges of crimes against humanity over his government's alleged use of proxy Arab militias in a scorched earth campaign against ethnic minority civilians in the region.

When the ICC issued a warrant for Bashir's arrest for the other charges in March last year, the Sudanese government expelled 13 relief organisations from Darfur.

Martinez, a Spaniard, is the IOM's director in the war-torn western region. Palatini, an Italian, head's the organisation's office in South Darfur state, aid officials said.

"I have no comment," was all that the IOM's head of mission for Sudan, Jill Hilke, would say when asked about the expulsion orders.

Darfur, an arid region the size of France, has been gripped by civil war since ethnic minority rebels rose up in 2003.

The conflict has killed 300 000 people and left 2.7 million homeless, according to UN figures. Khartoum says 10 000 people have died.