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Sudan Ousts U.N. Relief Official

October 31, 1986

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) _ The government has declared a special representative of the U.N. secretary- general persona non grata because of his contacts with rebels to safeguard the delivery of emergency supplies to southern Sudan, a news report said Thursday.

The official Sudan News Agency identified the man as Winston Prattley, the Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar’s special representative for relief operations in Sudan.

″The U.N. official exceeded all diplomatic rules by insisting on contacting the rebel group in southern Sudan about getting relief food there despite the fact that the Sudanese government has secured the three airports in the south and opened them to civil aviation,″ it quoted a government source as saying.

U.N. officials in Khartoum could not immediately be contacted. A U.N. spokesman in New York declined comment, but said Prattley was in New York.

Declaring Prattley officially unwelcome means he can not return to Sudan.

Prattley, who is a citizen of New Zealand, helped organize Operation Rainbow, which was planned to airlift almost $1 million of food and medicine to an estimated 2 million or more Sudanese facing starvation, mainly because of fighting in the south.

Prattley told a news conference Monday in New York that the airlift was suspended last Friday after a plane carrying food to Juba for another relief operation was hit by groundfire.

Egypt’s Middle East News Agency quoted an unidentified Sudanese official as saying Wednesday the government rejected Prattley’s statement and that southern Sudan was safe for the airlift.

MENA said the official accused the organizers of Operation Rainbow of having ″political aims,″ but he did not elaborate.

It said Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nations would give Secretary- General Javier Perez de Cuellar the government’s reasons for expelling Prattley.

Prattley, an engineer, was appointed in June 1985 as Perez de Cuellar’s special representative for U.N. emergency operations in the Sudan.

He previously was regional representative for the U.N. Development Program in Bangkok, Thailand. He also was coordinator of U.N. Border Relief Operations for Cambodian refugees.

Prattley has been with the U.N. program since 1963, and served in Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia and Iran. When he was appointed to the Sudan post, a U.N. news released described him as ″one of the most senior field officials of the United Nations.″

The 11-nation Operation Rainbow began three weeks behind schedule because of political and administrative problems.

Prime Minister Sadek el-Mahdy said relief agencies could negotiate a safe- conduct agreement with the rebels, and a U.N. official reached accord in mid- September with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. But the government rejected the pact, which called for alternating flights between a rebel-held town and a government-held town.

Operation Rainbow then announced it would proceed without safe conduct from the rebels, who last August shot down an airliner, killing all 60 people on board. But probelms with insurance for the Indonesian-chartered plane delayed the first flight until Oct. 12.

U.N. officials later told reporters privately that the government was unhappy with the publicized contacts with the rebels, who took up arms in 1983 to demand more autonomy and administrative and economic reforms.

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