Home | News    Friday 26 December 2014

Sudan expels a second United Nations official


December 25, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese authorities on Thursday asked the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator , Ali al-Za’atari to leave the country, Khartoum sources within the world body told Sudan Tribune.

United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator Ali al-Za’atari

The expulsion order comes less than 24 hours after Khartoum’s decision to give the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country director Yvonne Helle 72 hours to leave the country.

Za’atari refused to comment on the decision and the Sudanese government has neither confirmed nor denied the news.

Innercitypress website reporting from UN headquarters in New York published an email from al- Za’atari to UN staff in Sudan.

“I regret to inform you that the government had requested me today to leave Sudan. I will do so on 2 January,” the purported email reads.

Hours before that, UNDP country director said in an email to her staff also obtained by Innercitypress that Khartoum informed al- Za’atari that Helle must leave.

"The Government of Sudan has informed Ali [Al-Za’atari] that I am no longer welcome in Sudan and have been asked to leave by Monday. You can imagine the state of shock I am in... As you all know, I loved working and living in Sudan. Given the timing it will be impossible to say goodbye to all of you in person, so herewith my heartfelt goodbye to you in writing," Helle’s email reads.

Al-Za’atari replied to her email saying that “a government decision was made and formally delivered regarding Yvonne’s stay in Sudan... I will miss Yvonne as a leader of thought and creativity".

On December 2nd, the government sponsored Sudanese Media Centre (SMC) website claimed that Za’atari directed insults at the Sudanese people and president Hassan Omer Hassan al-Bashir in an interview with the Norwegian newspaper Bistandsaktuelt.

SMC said that the UN official described Sudan as a country living in a humanitarian and economic crisis and that the society has become dependent on aid.

But Za’atari told Sudan Tribune at the time that statements attributed to him were not entirely true adding that "It is inconceivable that I offend Sudan”.

While he acknowledged being interviewed by the Oslo-based newspaper, Za’atari suggested that there is a possibility that the transcript contained errors due to mistranslation from English to Norwegian.

He also did not rule out that SMC website distorted the interview as well.

The Jordanian-born official said that statements attributed to him warrant an apology from the newspaper.

"This is unfortunate and I did not utter this serious talk," Za’atari said before noting that he has an audio recording of the interview.

He went on to say that he did describe the humanitarian situation in Sudan as difficult but emphasized that he cannot cross the boundaries of decency and politeness.

Za’atari also denied receiving any summons from Sudanese authorities to inquire about those statements.

SMC website said that Za’atari criticized president Bashir by saying that he ruled Sudan for decades “with an iron fist”. But Bistandsaktuelt website showed that this description of Bashir was part of a preface to the interview written by the Norwegian media house and not part of Za’atari’s statements.

It also pointed out that Za’atari told the newspaper that the UN is striking a delicate balance in dealing with a person accused of crimes against humanity in Darfur.

"We must accept the fact that Bashir is the president of Sudan. We may or may not like it; the reality is that we must cooperate with him. Failing to deal with this is the same as condemning a nation and its people to great suffering,” Za’atari told the newspaper according to the interview transcript published on Bistandsaktuelt website.

SMC quoted Za’atari as sarcastically describing Sudanese people as finding it hard to live without aid and that the situation is getting worse every month.

It cited experts in international law as saying that Za’atari statements are considered offensive to the state and requires accountability and actions that preserve the prestige of the state and the dignity of the country.

Sources speaking to Innercitypress believe Bashir has now taken on himself to target UN activities in Sudan

Sudan had already shut the hybrid peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) human rights office in Khartoum and called on the mission to prepare an exit plan, days after denying peacekeepers permission to pay a second visit to the site of alleged mass rapes by Sudanese soldiers in Tabit, a village in Darfur.

But the UN peacekeeping chief, Hervé Ladsous, said UNAMID was unlikely to bow to Sudan’s request to leave when the situation there appears to be worsening.

Sudanese authorities routinely accuse UN agencies working in the country of non-neutrality and seeking to serve the agenda of foreign intelligence agencies and going beyond their mandate. The security apparatus also closely monitors UN workers in Sudan.

Last April, the foreign ministry expelled the head of United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) in Sudan on charge of interfering in the country’s internal affairs.

Immediately after the first arrest warrant of the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Bashir in March 2009, Sudan expelled 13 aid groups from Darfur accusing it of collaborating with the war crime courts.

Since then, the Sudanese government intensified its crackdown on foreign aid agencies.


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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
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  • 29 October 2017 08:58, by sirking79

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