20 March 2009
Security Council
SC/9622

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6096th Meeting (PM)


top humanitarian official, briefing Security Council, urges sudanese government


to reverse expulsion of non-governmental organizations

 


Expressing concern over the plight of civilians in strife-torn Darfur following the recent expulsion of several international aid agencies by the Government of the Sudan, Rashid Khalikov, Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs today urged the authorities in that country to reverse the decision and respect existing agreements and national laws governing the operations of relief groups.


Briefing the Security Council two-and-a-half weeks after the Government of the Sudan suspended the operations of three national non-governmental organizations and 13 international ones in northern Sudan, he said the Office hoped to engage in a transparent and productive dialogue with the Government, on the basis of existing laws and agreements, and to ensure the safety and security of all aid workers, commodities and assets.  The United Nations and the Government of the Sudan were conducting a joint assessment in the three states of Darfur to determine gaps in food aid; health and nutrition; shelter; and water and sanitation.  The results would be made public next week.


He said, however, that it was already known that the departure of non-governmental organizations had left the Ministry of Health, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) without partners to carry out vaccinations and prevent the spread of a meningitis outbreak in the Jebel Mara and Kalma refugee camps.  In the Zam Zam camp near El Fasher in North Darfur, the departure of two key aid groups had left the remaining, smaller agencies to cope with more than 36,000 newly arrived internally displaced persons forced to flee fighting in Muhajariya, South Darfur.


Mr. Khalikov noted with concern that on 15 March, President Omer Hassan al-Bashir had spoken of the possible departure of all foreign humanitarian organizations from Darfur within a year ‑‑ a matter that John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, would take up with the President.  “We must find a way to decrease tensions and ensure the timely and sustainable provision of protection and humanitarian assistance, based on the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality.”


The Sudan’s representative pointed out that the expelled non-governmental organizations amounted to only 7 per cent of the 118 aid groups operating in the country and the Government had taken that action because they had transgressed “all red lines”, daring to challenge the Sudan’s sovereignty while abusing the kindness of its people.


Emphasizing that the Government’s “legitimate, sovereign decision” would not be reversed and was not up for discussion, he said the Council’s sudden decision to take up the matter showed that certain countries were not keen on pursuing a political solution to the conflict in Darfur.  Instead, they were trying “to start fires” and blow crises out of proportion in an attempt to divert international attention away from the International Criminal Court’s widely rejected decision to start a procedure against the Sudan.


Council President Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham (Libya), speaking in his national capacity and as Chair of the African Union, agreed, saying that the Court had imposed a procedure, at the expense of peace, that would neither achieve justice nor end the conflict.  On the contrary, it could threaten regional stability.  It was well known that there were tense relations between some Council members and the Government of the Sudan, but the Council should not be used as a forum for settling accounts with the Sudanese Government or any other.  Instead, it should refrain from doing so in order to maintain its credibility.


Disagreeing strongly with that assessment, the representative of the United States said the Darfur crisis was a very real and urgent one of President Bashir’s own making, and his Government must be held accountable for every death.  The decision to expel aid agencies would not only cost lives, it would also leave the Sudanese Government in deeper isolation.  There was a need to speak with one voice in the face of such suffering; the international community should force the Government to reverse the expulsion edict.


Meanwhile, China’s representative called for restraint, saying the Council should hold a comprehensive discussion on the situation in Darfur to develop an integrated strategy for a balanced, comprehensive solution.  Hopefully the parties to the conflict would join forces to ensure unimpeded access for aid agencies in Darfur since political, humanitarian, economic and social efforts in the region were inextricably linked.


The representative of the Russian Federation emphasized the need for a solution in which all parties to the conflict could make efforts to stabilize the situation, and that was backed by the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).  The Russian Federation urged the international community to work together in promoting such a solution.


Also speaking this afternoon were the representatives of the United Kingdom, Mexico, France, Japan, Austria, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Croatia, Turkey, Viet Nam, Costa Rica and the Czech Republic (on behalf of the European Union).


The meeting began at 3:10 p.m. and ended at 4:50 p.m.


Background


The Security Council met to consider reports of the Secretary-General on the Sudan.


Briefing


RASHID KHALIKOV, Director, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said that in the two-and-a-half weeks since the Government of the Sudan had decided to suspend the operations of 3 national and 13 international non-governmental organizations in northern Sudan, the United Nations had continued to advocate at all levels for a reversal of that decision.  The needs of vulnerable people continued to be the first and main consideration of that effort.  The Secretary-General had been in close contact with Arab and African leaders, in addition to Council members, all of whom had expressed their concern about the plight of vulnerable people across the Sudan.  The United Nations was equally concerned that the decision had resulted in very harsh treatment in Darfur, and in Khartoum, of staff members who had been invited as guests of the Sudanese Government to assist the Sudanese people.


While continuing to press for a reversal of that decision and to underscore its impact on the lives of the Sudanese population, he said, the United Nations and the Sudanese Government had agreed to complete a series of joint rapid assessments in the three Darfur states.  Teams had been tasked with assessing the gaps in four lifesaving sectors:  food aid; health and nutrition; shelter; and water and sanitation.  They had also assessed the capacity available to cover the immediate life-threatening needs, and the Office should be able to speak more next week about their impact on the wider assistance effort in Darfur.


Since Assistant Secretary-General Catherine Bragg’s briefing to the Council on 6 March, he said, there had been significant signs of an erosion of humanitarian response capacity, with a concurrent impact on the lives of people in Darfur.  There was reason to believe that gaps were possibly opening up in rural areas which no longer had a humanitarian presence.  For example, in Zam Zam camp near El Fasher, the departure of two key non-governmental organizations had left the remaining, smaller agencies to cope with more than 36,000 newly arrived internally displaced persons forced to flee fighting in Muhajariya, South Darfur.  The violence had begun with clashes between the Sudan Liberation Army-Minnawi and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and had led to fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces and JEM, including attacks in and around the town by the Sudanese Air Force in January and February.


The departure of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)-France from Nertiti in West Darfur had left the Ministry of Health, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) without an implementing partner to carry out vaccination campaigns and treat the meningitis outbreak in the Jebel Mara camp.  The loss of partners had led to a similar situation in Kalma, where it had prevented desperately needed mass immunization.  Overall, it had become clear that the loss of support provided to local non-governmental organizations and Government line ministries had eroded operational management capacity in key sectors.


It was also troubling that the Government had continued to seize humanitarian assets, he said, citing one case in which the Government had yet to restore control of a United Nations warehouse containing shelter and other items to the Organization.  The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) deserved thanks for helping the humanitarian community to protect many essential supplies in the last two weeks, but it was regrettable that such measures continued to be necessary, especially in Government-controlled areas.  The impact of the decision was now being felt elsewhere, particularly in the three Protocol Areas of Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan and Abyei.  The delivery of humanitarian and development assistance in those areas was crucial for the successful implementation of the already fragile Comprehensive Peace Agreement.


The loss of operational capacity was not the only challenge, he said, noting that insecurity affecting both beneficiaries and aid workers had been increasing for quite some time.  The kidnapping of two Sudanese and three expatriate MSF staff members in North Darfur had temporarily halted all operations in rural areas of that state.  Over the past two weeks, three separate attacks on UNAMID had seen one peacekeeper killed and three others injured.  “We urge the Government to minimize its rhetoric against foreigners in the media, and to ensure the safety and security of all United Nations and associated staff.  We also urge groups in Darfur to take active steps to ensure that United Nations and non-governmental organization staff stay safe.”


He said that on 15 March he had noted with concern remarks by President Omer Hassan al-Bashir referring to the possible departure of all foreign humanitarian organizations in a year’s time, a matter that the Humanitarian Coordinator would take up with the Government.  “As the conflict continues, and as many parts of Darfur continue to be unstable, or under the influence of the rebel groups, the work of the United Nations and its partners will continue to be vital in helping Sudanese citizens affected by conflict receive the aid they need.  We urge leaders in Darfur ‑‑ State and non-State ‑‑ to facilitate the provision of lifesaving assistance to civilians in need.”


There was no doubt that the ability of the United Nations to help the people of Darfur and northern Sudan had been seriously compromised, he emphasized, adding that the current atmosphere of fear and uncertainty facing all aid organizations was affecting the assistance available to the people of Darfur.  “The hard-won partnership between the Government and aid organizations was cast aside in a way that raises questions as to how this relationship can move forward.  We must find a way to decrease tensions and ensure the timely and sustainable provision of protection and humanitarian assistance, based on the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality.”


Urging the Government to use the mechanisms established explicitly for the purpose of resolving disagreements, he said the provisions of Sudanese laws and agreements with the international community, including the Joint Communiqué on the facilitation of humanitarian assistance in Darfur, should be respected and used.  The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs wished to engage in a transparent and productive dialogue with the Government, based on those laws and agreements.  The safety and security of all aid workers, and of commodities and assets, must be assured.


Statements


MOHAMED Y. ABDELMANNAN (Sudan), noting that a meeting on the situation in Darfur had already been scheduled for later in the month, said the Council’s sudden decision to take up the expulsion of 13 non-governmental organizations from the Sudan showed that certain countries were not keen to pursue a political solution to the conflict in Darfur.  Instead, they were trying “to start fires” and blow crises out of proportion in an attempt to divert international attention away from the International Criminal Court’s widely rejected decision to launch a procedure against the Sudan.


He said his country had chosen to expel the organizations because they had transgressed “all red lines” and dared to challenge Sudanese sovereignty while abusing the kindness of its people.  They had been in the country as guests and, as such, were obliged to observe certain rules of propriety, such as not entering illicitly into the “private rooms” of the host.  The Government’s “legitimate, sovereign decision” would not be reversed and was not an issue for discussion.  Moreover, it was wrong for certain parties to depict the situation as if the Sudan had expelled all humanitarian organizations when in fact only 13 of them had been asked to leave.  That amounted to 7 per cent of the 118 organizations in the country.


The President had further decided to “Sudanize” voluntary work in the country, he said, stressing that the State should be trusted to undertake full responsibility for its humanitarian needs.  The Government remained committed to the various treaties to which it was party, including agreements to facilitate humanitarian work through the emergency relief “fast-track” programme.  The Security Council should deal with Darfur in a more comprehensive manner by working towards a political settlement as the main solution.  Council members should not exploit humanitarian and justice issues as the International Criminal Court had done since that could derail progress towards a political settlement.  Furthermore, it was rebel groups that were responsible for the lack of security and the abduction of humanitarian actors.


He concluded by stating that the Council’s decision to take up the expulsion matter had been made at a time when the political process was beginning to bear fruit.  The Sudan, therefore, renewed its call that the Security Council shoulder its responsibility and work towards peace and security in the Sudan.  It should abandon attempts to start fires and blow crises out of proportion.  The Sudan called for support from other Member States and asked them to desist from creating problems.


JOHN SAWERS ( United Kingdom) said humanitarian issues should not be mixed up with wider political questions.  The United Kingdom viewed the expulsion of 13 organizations and the closure of three Sudanese organizations as unacceptable, and joined the Secretary-General in calling upon the Sudan to reverse its decision.  The expulsion would cause irrevocable damage while violating both the humanitarian communiqué recently signed by the Government and provisions of the Doha Agreement signed only a few weeks ago.


Recalling the comment by the representative of the Sudan that the 13 expelled organizations amounted to 7 per cent of the total number, he observed that, in fact, their expulsion had resulted in a 40-50 per cent reduction in humanitarian capacity.  The few remaining international humanitarian workers were now vulnerable to duress unable to sustain the work carried out in the past.  Since fuel and medicine were not being distributed, and no new supplies were being ordered, Darfur faced an increased risk of disease and malnutrition.


The absence of shelter and water could mean growing insecurity in major camps, and the possibility of civil disturbances and mass movement of people as a result of the expulsion could not be ruled out, he said.  The consequences of the decision loomed even beyond Darfur, with potential for displacement across the border into Chad.  The decision had made the biggest impact in regions of southern Sudan such as Blue Nile, Kordofan and Abyei, where the 13 organizations had provided the bulk of humanitarian assistance.  The Government had made it harder to continue helping within the conformity of acceptable international humanitarian principles, and the United Kingdom would hold the Sudan responsible for the suffering that the expulsion caused.  It was inexplicable why the Government wished to add to the misery of its own people, who had already suffered through five years of war.


CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said the unfortunate decision to suspend the operations of three national non-governmental organizations and expel 13 international ones was inappropriately bound to the decision by the International Criminal Court.  It also opened the door to exacerbation of the crisis facing vulnerable groups such as women and children.  Mexico, condemning harassment and threats against civilians and aid groups, called on the Government to revoke its decision and to let aid agencies back in.


SUSAN RICE ( United States) said the Council had just heard a truly troubling report, which had resulted from the actions of one man.  The United States strongly condemned the Government’s decision, by which it was denying water, food, health care and sanitation to the people that it had driven out of their homes in the first place, thereby exacerbating a situation already at crisis point.  There should be no doubt:  Darfur was not a made-up crisis but a very real and urgent one of President Bashir’s own making, and his Government must be held accountable for every death.  The Government had made the decision and owned its consequences.  It would not only cost lives, it would also leave the Government in deeper isolation.  No person of conscience could fail to be moved by the deaths of innocent civilians already huddled in the camps of Darfur.


Underscoring the need to speak with one voice in the face of such suffering, she urged the international community to force the Government to reverse the expulsion edict.  President Bashir had created the crisis and should rectify it immediately.  The United States was working with others to make that happen, but the Council had just heard the representative of the Sudan say that his Government would never reverse the expulsion order.  Member States and the Council must never stand by idly while millions of people were at imminent risk of death.  Time was of the essence given the shortage of water that had caused the spread of meningitis.  The lack of health care was preventing patients from receiving treatment, and the United States was deeply concerned that meningitis and other infectious diseases would continue to spread in the camps.


There was also a growing humanitarian crisis in the Zam Zam camp in North Darfur, where aid workers were struggling to help thousands who had fled after the forced departure of key aid agencies, she said.  The United States supported urgent efforts by UNAMID to provide immediate relief but its efforts could not even begin to fill the gap left by aid groups.  With every passing day, President Bashir had used increasingly menacing rhetoric for his campaign while UNAMID continued to operate under dangerous conditions.


The United States would continue to work closely with the United Nations and others, she said.  It had already provided nearly $4 billion for the Sudan and Chad since 2004.  The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) had provided more than $720 million in fiscal 2008 and thus far in fiscal 2009.  But much of those lifesaving efforts had been cut off.  The Government of the Sudan had cut off 40 per cent of the WHO’s capacity to provide food aid in Darfur.  The Government had created the present crisis and must now act to end it.


JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT ( France) said the situation in Darfur counted as one of the world’s main emergency situations.  The Government of the Sudan should detain, and take action against, those who perpetrated attacks on UNAMID.  He called on all actors in the Sudan to cooperate with UNAMID, and on the international community to ensure that the force was deployed as rapidly as possible.


He deplored the Sudan’s decision to expel, or revoke the licence of certain non-governmental humanitarian organizations, and hoped that the Sudan would reverse its decision and refrain from further expulsions.  Those organizations provided more than half the humanitarian response in Darfur.  The Government’s decision would deprive food and water to more than half a million people and place that population in an “unacceptably precarious” situation.  The upcoming joint assessment by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Sudanese Government would shed light on the full implications of that decision.


He expressed regret over the rapidity with which the Sudanese Government had expelled the groups and the actions it had taken to harass those still present.  He asked the Government to ensure the well-being of the 6,000 national humanitarian staff in the Sudan and protect the assets of the expelled organizations.  Around 2.5 million displaced persons relied on them for their survival.  All actors ‑‑ beginning with the Sudanese authorities ‑‑ should take responsibility for their well-being and, indeed, that of all the people of Darfur.  Khartoum should abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law, including provisions governing access to victims and the protection of humanitarian personnel.


He said matters of international justice were distinct from the issue presently before the Council, which in itself required the Sudan’s compliance.  The Sudan’s response had fallen short in that regard.  A political solution could not be disassociated from the question of impunity, he added.


YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) noted with deep concern the grave humanitarian situation in Darfur, particularly after revocation of the licences of major humanitarian non-governmental organizations.  Japan was also concerned about the food situation after exhaustion of the stockpile.  United Nations humanitarian programmes relied on non-governmental organizations for the delivery of assistance, and it was impossible for it to compensate for their absence.  While Japan understood it was the Sudan’s intention to increase the number of national non-governmental organizations to replace those lost, such plans would take time, and the most vulnerable persons needed urgent assistance.  On 8 March, Japan decided to extend new assistance, which included $34 million to support the United Nations 2009 workplan.  International and national non-governmental organizations were indispensable to implementing projects funded by Japan, and he strongly urged the Government to reconsider its decision.  He was also concerned by the Government’s remark about “Sudanizing” relief operations.


He said that the activities of humanitarian non-governmental organizations were covered by the joint communiqué between the Sudan and the United Nations, and Security Council resolution 1828 (2008) demanded its full implementation.  It was also the Council’s responsibility to ensure implementation of its earlier decisions.  “There is no justification at all for the Government to drastically curtail critical, lifesaving food, water and medical support to millions of its own people,” he stressed, appealing to the Government to immediately alleviate the situation.  Further, the International Criminal Court’s decision would not justify any change by the Sudan in complying with Security Council resolutions.  It was important that the Government and all rebel movements refrain from actions that would aggravate the humanitarian and security situation.  The Council should monitor the peace process, deployment of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur, and, most importantly, the question of impunity.  The Council must make the utmost effort to address the issue responsibly and act in unison.  He looked forward to receiving a briefing on the joint United Nations-Sudan humanitarian assessment next week.


THOMAS MAYR-HARTING ( Austria) stressed the decision to expel 13 international humanitarian organizations and to revoke the licences of three local ones was a matter of deep concern, as were reports that the Sudan had called on all international aid groups to leave within one year.  The expelled organizations had overseen the care of 40 to 50 per cent of people in need in Darfur and were indispensable to the more than 1 million civilians they served.  The United Nations depended on them as partners and their expulsion created life-threatening gaps at a time when reports of meningitis in South Darfur were dramatically affecting the distribution of water, sanitation, health care and food.  It would likely precipitate the movement of people across borders, including into Chad.


In accordance with a recent European Union statement, he appealed to the Sudanese Government to reconsider its decision and guarantee that humanitarian assistance reached everyone in need of it.  The United Nations was sure to do everything in its power to fill some of the gaps, although it was certain that full coverage was not possible.  In the end, it was the primary responsibility of the Sudanese Government to ensure food, shelter and health care for its civilian population.  Austria called on all parties to show restraint and abide by their obligation to protect civilians under the applicable rules of international law.  Those same parties were also called upon to ensure the safety and security of United Nations personnel and humanitarian workers, and to refrain from intimidating the humanitarian community.


ZHANG YESUI ( China) expressed hope that the parties at hand would join forces to ensure unimpeded access for aid agencies in Darfur, noting that political, humanitarian, economic and social efforts in the region were inextricably linked.  Some had said that the arrest warrant against President Bashir had aggravated the situation.  China called for restraint so as to avoid further deterioration.  The Council should hold a comprehensive discussion on the situation in Darfur to develop an integrated strategy for moving in a balanced way towards a comprehensive solution in Darfur.


VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) called for a strategy that would carefully consider a political resolution to the conflict and a search for justice.  The decision to expel the aid agencies would lead to suffering on the part of civilians in Darfur, and the Russian Federation called for continuing dialogue with the Government of the Sudan, with the help of international non-governmental organizations.  The very complex humanitarian situation in Darfur was the result of conflict between the Government and armed groups and it was important to ensure that all parties to the conflict made efforts to stabilize the situation.  A solution backed by UNAMID was needed and the international community must work together to promote one.


MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) said that, while he saw no problem with discussing the humanitarian situation in Darfur in order to take full stock of the realities in the field, it would have been better to wait for a detailed analysis of the joint assessment mission next week.  The lessons to be drawn from the humanitarian situation in Darfur were that the yearning to see justice prevail should not contribute to further suffering on the part of civilians.


The situation could not be isolated from the arrest warrant against President Bashir, he said.  As for the expulsion of the non-governmental organizations, the Government of Burkina Faso would continue to encourage the Sudan to find the means to respond to the humanitarian situation in Darfur.  Contacts were ongoing and the main thing was to restore trust and confidence between the Government and humanitarian players in order to alleviate the situation.


RUHAKANA RUGUNDA ( Uganda) said the humanitarian situation in the Sudan, following many years of conflict, difficult terrain and weak Government, had been complicated by the recent indictment of President Bashir and made worse by the recent expulsion of non-governmental organizations.  Due to years of strife, many people now lived in camps where disease and mortality had increased.


While not agreeing with the representative of the Sudan that, because only 13 non-governmental organizations had been expelled, only 7 per cent of the non-governmental community had been affected, he said the effectiveness of those expelled had been tested in numerous situations.  Uganda called on the Government of the Sudan, in the interest of its own people who had suffered many years of conflict and deprivation, to take urgent action to review its expulsion decision so as to ensure water, food and basic services for those in the camps.


NEVEN JURICA ( Croatia) said the major human crisis that had occurred after the expulsion of aid agencies was completely unacceptable and could lead to further difficulties and suffering among refugees.  It was regrettable that President Bashir and his Government had once again not heeded the cause of peace despite their responsibility to protect their people and international peacekeepers.  The Government must be held accountable for violations of international humanitarian law, and the President must revoke his inhuman and unacceptable decision to expel the aid agencies.


BAKİ İLKİN ( Turkey) said that helping the millions of innocent people displaced in Darfur was a huge undertaking that must continue unhindered.  Stopping the flow of humanitarian assistance could have severe consequences, and President Bashir must revoke his decision to expel the aid agencies without delay as the extremely grave situation needed urgent action.  Meanwhile, it was also vital to examine ways to fill the gap created by the expulsion of aid agencies in the short term.  Turkey welcomed the joint assessment under way by the Sudanese authorities and the United Nations.  The humanitarian dimension of the Darfur crisis and the need to continue to support UNAMID and the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) in any way possible could not be set apart from the realities in the wider region.  It was necessary to address all regional dynamics.


LE LUONG MINH ( Viet Nam) said that in conflict situations, the protection of civilians must be the priority of all parties concerned.  One could not deny that the worsening of the situation in Darfur was a result of the International Criminal Court indictment of President Bashir.  Viet Nam and others had warned the Council about that unfortunate but predictable development.  Viet Nam was a strong supporter of the struggle against impunity.  Crimes against humanity and genocide must be punished, whether now or later.  However, a balance must be maintained between promoting the political process and the fight against impunity.  Viet Nam called upon all parties concerned to refrain from actions that could lead to further complications, to cooperate in alleviating the humanitarian situation and to resume the peace process, in the best interest of the people of Darfur and the Sudan as a whole.


JORGE URBINA ( Costa Rica), welcoming the convening of the meeting, said he did not seek to admonish a regime beset by its own errors.  The aim of the meeting was to ensure the visibility of a humanitarian crisis of great magnitude that had endangered the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, and to draw international attention to the crisis.  The future implications of actions adopted in response to judicial circumstances had nothing to do with the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.  The expulsion paved the way for a collective tragedy, since the population had been intentionally abandoned.  Impeding humanitarian access could lead to their deaths, which was a further violation of international humanitarian law.  The Sudan must respect the commitments it had made and consider revoking its decision to expel the humanitarian organizations.


Council President ABDURRAHMAN MOHAMED SHALGHAM (Libya), speaking in his national capacity and as Chair of the African Union, said he would have liked Council members to be as concerned about the humanitarian crisis affecting civilians in Gaza as they were over the crisis affecting those in Darfur.  Given the importance of cooperation between the United Nations, the Sudanese Government, the African Union and the League of Arab States in delivering humanitarian assistance in a safe manner and without obstacles, it was to be hoped that the decision of the Sudanese Government would not affect aid activities and that the work of the expelled agencies would be carried out by national agencies as soon as possible.  There was cause for confidence that the Government of the Sudan took care of its people, contrary to what some in the Council had tried to imply.


The expulsion decision was a result of the indictment by the International Criminal Court, he said, stressing that the two issues could not be separated.  The indictment had no doubt created a new reality in the Sudan.  The Court had imposed a procedure, at the expense of peace, that would neither achieve justice nor end the conflict in Darfur.  It could also threaten regional stability, but that did not mean that justice should be overlooked.  Justice must be served, but instead of taking measures that could complicate the peace process ‑‑ as the Court had done ‑‑ it was necessary to seek other ways to support the political process.


That was what had led the African Union to put forth several resolutions invoking article 16 of the Rome Statute, he said.  However, the regional body had not received any response from the Council in that regard until now.  The Council did not need any more affirmations on the Sudan as it had listened to statements by the factions on the ground.  It was well known that there were tense relations between some Council members and the Government of the Sudan, but the Council should not be used as a forum for settling accounts with the Sudanese Government or any other.  The Council should refrain from doing so in order not to damage its credibility.


PETR KAISER ( Czech Republic), speaking on behalf of the European Union, recalled that on 16 March, the regional bloc’s foreign ministers had adopted a statement calling on the Government of the Sudan urgently to reconsider their decision to expel 13 international non-governmental organizations and revoke the licences of three national ones.  They had also called on the Government to ensure that humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable would be guaranteed.  The continued delivery of humanitarian assistance was crucial to the creation of an environment conducive to the implementation of all peace processes in the Sudan.  The Government’s decision was a direct and immediate threat to continued international humanitarian assistance in Darfur.


HASSAN HAMID HASSAN ( Sudan) took the floor for a second time, saying that the description of the situation was incomplete, which would not help any political settlement.  Delegates had been talking about the Sudan and its leadership as if decisions were taken by one individual, which was a flagrant violation of diplomatic norms.  Decisions were taken by institutions.  The Sudan was not a failed State and the institutions in question had taken the decision after carefully considering evidence that the expelled organizations had crossed a red line and violated General Assembly resolutions.  Encroaching on the sovereignty of Member States was a violation of the United Nations Charter.  The Sudan wondered why the Council had not waited for the conclusions of the joint assessment mission.  The decision of the Government of the Sudan was irrevocable.


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