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Sudan: Amnesty International Warns 2.2 Million at Risk in Darfur After Aid Agencies Expelled


Amnesty International today warned that
2.2 million people face the risk of starvation and disease following
yesterday's decision by the Sudanese government to expel more than 10
aid agencies, including Oxfam, Care, Save the Children and Medecins
Sans Frontieres.

"Millions of lives are at stake and this is no time to play
political games," said Tawanda Hondora, Deputy Director of Amnesty
International's Africa Programme. "These aid agencies provide the bulk
of the humanitarian aid required by more than two million vulnerable

"By expelling humanitarian agencies, the Sudanese government is
effectively holding the entire civilian population of Darfur hostage -
an aggressive act that must be condemned in the strongest possible
terms by the African Union, the League of Arab States and the
international community as a whole."

The expulsions came soon after a decision by the International
Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar
al Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Several
other aid agencies had their assets seized.

"The population of Darfur, which has suffered the brunt of this
conflict for the past six years, is now being punished by its own
government in response to the arrest warrant," said Tawanda Hondora.

"The Sudanese authorities must immediately reverse their decision to
expel and suspend the operations of key humanitarian aid agencies
immediately and allow them to carry on with their life-saving work. The
alternative is simply unthinkable."

The African Union today held an emergency meeting to discuss the
arrest warrant. The League of Arab States convened yesterday and
expressed its solidarity with President al Bashir. Amnesty
International urged the Peace and Security Council of the AU to hold a
special hearing to look at the question of access, with a view to
ensuring the return of humanitarian agencies to Darfur.

"Like any country, Sudan has responsibilities under international
humanitarian law to ensure access to international assistance by people
who need it. The existence of an arrest warrant for the country's
president is entirely irrelevant to the issue," said Tawanda Hondora.

Note to editors:
Under the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural
Rights, which Sudan has ratified, the Sudanese government is obliged to
refrain from actions that violate the economic, social and cultural
rights of its citizens and seek international assistance if they are
unable to carry out their obligations.

Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. We have more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions and we coordinate this support to act for justice on a wide range of issues.