Sudan’s Government Bans Relief Flights, Red Cross Says
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Authorities in Sudan have barred Red Cross relief flights into its war-torn southern region, delaying supplies to a quarter million refugees and other people, the organization said today.
Brigitte Meng, an information officer with the International Committee of the Red Cross in Nairobi, said the ban began Feb. 1 when the government in Khartoum failed to approve Red Cross flight plans for this month.
″We are still negotiating with Sudan’s government and that is why we have sort of kept quiet,″ she said.
She said the ban left unattended about 14,000 orphaned children who were among an estimated 250,000 refugees who returned to Sudan from camps in southwestern Ethiopia in May.
It also cut off the delivery of up to 120 tons of food and medicine to eight sites in the region, where government troops are battling two factions of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army.
The rebels took up arms in 1983 to press for increased autonomy for the predominantly Christian and black south. Sudan’s central government is dominated by Arab Muslims in the north.
The impoverished and undeveloped southern region, about the size of France, is home to an estimated 6 million people.