UN: Relief still Sent to South despite Sudan's Tough Talk
A UN-sponsored group said Tuesday it was still sending relief to southern Sudan despite President Omar Bashir's move to close airspace to aid flights from abroad and consider banning relief groups.
An official with the World Food Program (WFP), the UN agency in charge of Operation Lifeline-Sudan (OLS), told AFP the WFP is continuing to deliver food "as normal" to both government- and rebel-controlled areas in the south.
The official said senior Sudanese humanitarian assistance officials told the WFP that the ban on relief flights from abroad was not targeting UN agencies and 40 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working with the OLS.
Several flights are still being made everyday from the north Kenyan town of Lokichokio as well as from Khartoum and Obeid in central Sudan to various areas in south Sudan, the WFP official said.
The WFP was told that Bashir was referring to NGOs that are not working with the OLS.
Sudan Television reported meanwhile that Junior Foreign Minister Gebriel Rorec Monday reassured WFP Representative in Khartoum Masoud Haider of his government's "full commitment" to delivering relief to all the needy.
Yet, he was reported as telling the UN official that the government "retains its right to supervise humanitarian supplies".
In a hard-hitting speech Saturday, Bashir said "Sudan's airspace will be closed to all relief aircraft coming from abroad with arms and food assistance for the rebel movement," the Sudan People's Liberation Army.
Relief groups use Lokichokio in northern Kenya as their main base for flying aid into parts of southern Sudan, where the SPLA has stepped up fighting in the last few weeks and claimed dramatic gains - KHARTOUM (AFP)
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