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‘Sanctioning of UN staff in Sudan unacceptable’: Ban Ki-moon

December 26 - 2014 NEW YORK
Ali El Za' tari (youtube)
Ali El Za' tari (youtube)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has strongly condemned Sudan’s decision to expel the Resident Coordinator and the Country Director of the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

“The sanctioning of United Nations personnel sent to Sudan to carry out their duties in accordance with the United Nations Charter is unacceptable,” Ban said in a short statement issued on Thursday.

“The Secretary-General calls on the Government of Sudan to reverse its decision immediately and urges it to cooperate fully with all United Nations entities present in Sudan.”

On Wednesday, UNDP country director, Yvonne Helle, was ordered to leave the country. Less than 24 hours later, Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, Ali El Za’tari, received the same message.

The government-backed Sudanese Media Centre (SMC) claimed on 2 December that El Za’tari had offended the Sudanese people and the president in an interview with the Norwegian newspaper Bistandsaktuelt.

According to the SMC, the UN official said that the country is suffering from a humanitarian and economic crisis, that the Sudanese people find it hard to live without aid, and that the situation is getting worse every month. More than two million children are facing malnutrition in Sudan, he noted.

El Za’atri told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that the statements attributed to him were not entirely true. “It is inconceivable that I offend Sudan.” He suggested that the transcript possibly contained errors due to mistranslation from English to Norwegian.

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