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Sudan expels Norwegian refugee agency from Darfur

Written by: Staff
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KHARTOUM, Nov 21 (Reuters) Sudanese officials said they had ordered the Norwegian Refugee Council to leave South Darfur state, accusing the aid agency of espionage and publishing false information.

''We have decided not to renew the technical agreement with Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in South Darfur state,'' said Mohamed Salih, the head of international relations department of South Darfur.

''They have made reports on military movements of armed forces ... which is in the domain of espionage,'' he told Reuters from Darfur.

Darfur's is the world's largest humanitarian operation, with 14,000 aid workers trying to help some 2.5 million people who fled their homes to camps during fighting which experts estimate has killed 200,000.

U N humanitarian chief Jan Egeland's Darfur trip last week was cut short after government security said it was unsafe for him to visit areas outside the state capitals.

He warned that government restrictions and military operations were endangering the entire Darfur aid operation, which he said had saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

The NRC said last week it was pulling out of South Darfur in any case, because government obstructions and suspension of its work meant it could no longer function in the region, where it helps some 300,000 people. Staff were still in Darfur today.

Salih accused the group of publishing a false report on 80 cases of rape around the state's largest and most volatile Kalma Camp, which houses around 100,000 Darfuris.

He also said the NRC gave camp residents mobile phones with which they spread false information and that the group prevented government officials from attending a meeting with Kofi Annan in the camp last year.

Kalma residents burned and looted the offices of government officials in the camp and authorities say rebels use it as a base for operations. The NRC was the camp coordinator for Kalma.

REUTERS PDM HT1938

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