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Sudan Urged To Ensure Aid Workers Darfur Access

UN relief official urges Sudan to ensure that aid workers have access to Darfur

The top United Nations relief official has begun his visit to Sudan by calling on the Government to ensure safe and unimpeded access for aid workers, particularly those providing vital humanitarian assistance to people affected by the conflict in the country's strife-torn Darfur region.

In his meeting with senior Sudanese officials in Khartoum, Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes stressed the ongoing need for a "safer and more conducive environment" for humanitarian workers.

"The key issue is safety so that we can continue to assist the Government to provide assistance to these most vulnerable communities," Mr. Holmes said following discussions with Ali Karti, the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Hassabo Abdel Rahman, the Commissioner General of the Humanitarian Aid Commission.

A key issue was the extension of the 2004 Moratorium enabling non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to continue to operate in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2.2 million others displaced in the past four years due to violence. An estimated 4 million Darfuris now depend on humanitarian aid for survival.

"My discussions today with Government were useful, and clear assurances were given to me that there would be no problem with the extension of the Moratorium," said Mr. Holmes.

While in Khartoum, Mr. Holmes also met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative, Ashraf Qazi, as well as Ameerah Haq, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan.

In addition, Mr. Holmes, who is Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, also discussed pressing issues and challenges with representatives of UN agencies, NGOs and donors.

Mr. Holmes will travel on Friday to South Darfur where he will meet people directly affected by the conflict.

Sudan is the current stop on a three-nation trip that began in Ethiopia and will also take the UN humanitarian chief to Kenya in the coming days.


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