Sudan has ordered two senior United Nations officials to leave, a UN spokesman said Thursday, after a recent spike in tensions between Khartoum and the peacekeeping mission in Darfur. The UN resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator Ali Zaatari and the UN Development Programme country director Yvonne Helle were asked by the government to leave, a UN staffer said. Zaatari, a Jordanian national, had been in Sudan for nearly two years, and Helle, who is from the Netherlands, had spent about a year heading the UNDP’s office in the country. It was unclear why the UN officials were asked to leave, or when they would have to exit the country.
The UN has filed a protest with the government of Sudan following their decision to request the departure of two senior UN officials from the country.
Spokesman Stephane Dujarric
The expulsions come as Sudan’s government is locked in a dispute with the hybrid UN-African union mission in Darfur. Ties between the two have frayed over Khartoum’s anger at UNAMID’s attempts to investigate a report that government troops raped 200 women and girls in a village in the war-torn western region on October 31. Sudan demanded UNAMID form an “exit strategy” from Darfur, where they have been deployed since 2007 and ordered it to shut a human rights office in Khartoum last month. In April, the government told the American chief of the UN Population Fund in Sudan to leave for “interfering” in internal affairs. The UN provides aid to areas affected by an insurgency the government is battling in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, as well as a protracted conflict in Darfur.