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Sudan accuses UN official of ‘false’ reports on displaced

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This file photo taken on Nov. 16, 2015 shows Ivo Freijsen, the head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Khartoum, looking on during an interview with AFP at his office in the Sudanese capital. / AFP / TOM LITTLE

This file photo taken on Nov. 16, 2015 shows Ivo Freijsen, the head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Khartoum, looking on during an interview with AFP at his office in the Sudanese capital. / AFP / TOM LITTLE

Sudan on Wednesday accused a senior United Nations humanitarian affairs official it effectively expelled of having filed “false reports” about people displaced by conflict in the east African country.

The UN announced on Sunday that Ivo Freijsen, head of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan, had been “de facto expelled” after Khartoum refused to renew his stay permit which expires on June 6.

Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said Freijsen had been “non-cooperative” with Sudanese officials.

“He published reports which Sudanese officials do not agree with,” Ghandour told reporters.

“He published false reports. For example when there were 11,000 people displaced, he reported 100,000 were displaced.

“He even said that Sudan was suffering from famine.”

Ghandour did not elaborate or refer to the areas involving the displaced people.

OCHA regularly reports on the humanitarian situation in war-torn areas of Sudan such as Darfur, where a conflict since 2003 has left tens of thousands of people dead and about 2.5 million displaced, according to UN figures.

In its latest weekly bulletin it said that meeting humanitarian needs of tens of thousands newly displaced from an upsurge in fighting in the mountainous Jebel Marra region this year was becoming “difficult” amid low levels of funding.

OCHA also monitors South Sudanese refugees who flee to Sudan from war and food shortages in their country.

The United Nations said it had submitted a request on April 10 for a 12-month extension of Freijsen’s stay permit in Sudan.

But Ghandour said Sudan had previously regularly renewed Freijsen’s permit since he arrived in 2014.

“This man had come to Sudan in January 2014, saying that he was going to be only an acting head of OCHA,” the minister said.

“And the foreign ministry kept renewing his permit until June 2016.”

When asked about Ghandour’s remarks about Freijsen, OCHA told AFP it had “consistently” communicated his title to Khartoum in all its documents.

It said the organisation “gathers, analyses and shares reliable data from humanitarian partners, including governments, on humanitarian needs and response”.

OCHA also denied it had reported about a famine in Sudan.

Freijsen, who is Dutch, is the fourth senior UN official who has been forced to leave Sudan in the past two years, the UN said.

His departure comes in addition to the “forced closure of international NGO Tearfund in December 2015 and the de facto expulsion of three international NGO country representatives in recent months”, the UN said.


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