Sudan to UN humanitarian chief: We accept aid, not foreign aid workers
KHARTOUM - Foreigners are not allowed to distribute aid to two war-ravaged states in Sudan, a government minister affirmed on Wednesday after talks with the UN's humanitarian chief.
The United Nations says hundreds of thousands of people have become internally displaced or otherwise severely affected since fighting began last June in South Kordofan state, and then in Blue Nile.
Refugees fleeing to Ethiopia and South Sudan are reporting food shortages and rising levels of malnutrition, with "particularly alarming" signs coming from rebel-held areas, Valerie Amos, the UN's top emergency aid official, told reporters.
But Khartoum, citing security concerns, continues to bar UN and foreign aid workers from the warzone.
"We welcome support from the UN but the Sudanese government decides on the delivery of aid to people. It must be done by Sudanese aid workers," Social Welfare Minister Amira al-Fadel Mohamed told the same news briefing.
"There is still a fear that the aid workers may face some security troubles," she said, adding that the issue of access is under discussion.
"And later we can decide when the international aid workers can return to the two states and what are the limits of their movement."
The UN has said that without having its people in the affected areas it cannot verify what the needs are or how they are being addressed.
Mohamed said her government has delivered food and water.
"The whole focus of our discussion has been on ways in which the United Nations can support the government's own effort to meet the needs of people in government-controlled areas, and also how we can access those people in SPLM-North held areas where the indicators are particularly alarming," Amos said.
The government and UN agreed to discuss the sharing of information and data to help them meet the people's needs, she added.
Fighting in the border state of South Kordofan broke out in early June, between Sudanese forces and SPLM-North soldiers, who had fought alongside rebels in southern Sudan during a civil war that ended in 2005 and led to South Sudan's independence in July.
The conflict spread in September to Blue Nile state, another area where Khartoum moved to assert its authority in the wake of southern secession.
South Kordofan's governor, Ahmad Harun, is wanted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sudan's Darfur region.