Sudan has suspended the work of a UN mission in its violent Darfur region after accusing the world body of transporting a rebel leader who opposes a recent peace deal, a Sudanese official said Sunday.
The United Nations co-ordinates one of the world's largest aid operations in Darfur and monitors the health, malnutrition and human rights situation in a region the size of France.
"The suspension applies for all of Darfur and this will continue until we get an explanation," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Jamal Ibrahim.
He said the ban was imposed because a UN helicopter had moved rebel leader Suleiman Adam Jamous, who rejects a peace deal signed on May 5 without consulting the government in Khartoum.
It excludes two bodies affiliated to the UN mission, the World Food Program and the UN children's agency (UNICEF), Ibrahim said.
UN spokeswoman Radhia Achouri said the mission had not received any formal communication from the government. "We have also seen the media reports but we have not received any formal and official confirmation of this from the government of Sudan," she said. She declined to comment on whether the United Nations had moved rebel leader Jamous in a helicopter.
In recent months UN relations with the Sudan Government has been strained as Khartoum has fiercely resisted international pressure for a UN takeover of the struggling African Union mission monitoring a shaky truce in Darfur.
Only one of three rebel factions negotiating in the Nigerian capital Abuja signed the African Union-mediated deal and tens of thousands in Darfur have demonstrated, at times violently, against it.
They say it does not meet their basic demands of proper compensation for war victims or enough political posts and the rebels want to monitor the disarmament of pro-government militias, known locally as Janjaweed.
Elderly Jamous was the humanitarian coordinator for the main rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) before it split in November last year. He was the main contact for the more than 14,000 aid workers in the region.
"He was picked up by the UN helicopter between el-Fasher and Musbat," Ibrahim said, referring to areas in North Darfur.
(China Daily June 26, 2006)