Sudan Expels 2 UN Senior officials

Sudan Expels 2 UN Senior officials
Sudan Expels 2 UN Senior officials

Sudan has ordered two senior United Nations officials to leave, the world body said on Thursday, in what appeared to be an escalation of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s move against UN activities in the country.

The United Nations said in a statement that the officials are Ali Al-Za’tari, UN resident coordinator at the United NationsDevelopment Programme; and Yvonne Helle, the UNDP’s country director.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in the statement that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Khartoum’s demand for the exit of the two senior UNDP officials.

“The sanctioning of United Nations personnel sent to Sudan to carry out their duties in accordance with the United Nations Charter is unacceptable,” Dujarric said.

“The Secretary-General calls on the government of Sudan to reverse its decision immediately and urges it to cooperate fully with all United Nations entities present in Sudan,” he added.

The reason for the expulsions was not immediately clear, but they come a month after Bashir called for peacekeepers from UNAMID, the joint UN-African Union Mission in Darfur, to leave, calling them a “security burden.”

Sudan had already shut UNAMID’s human rights office in Khartoum and called on the mission to prepare an exit plan.

The head of the UN peacekeeping forces said UNAMID was unlikely to bow to Sudan’s request to leave when the situation there appears to be worsening.

Conflict erupted in Darfur in 2003 when mainly African tribes took up arms against the Arab-led government in Khartoum, accusing it of discriminating against them. UNAMID has been deployed in Darfur since 2007. UN sources said Helle, a Dutch national, had been told to leave Sudan by Dec. 29, and Za’tari, a Jordanian, would depart by Jan. 2.