UN chief: Over 1 million at risk in Darfur

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned Tuesday that Sudan's expulsion of 16 aid organizations from Darfur is putting the lives of over 1 million innocent civilians at risk and increasing the potential for instability in the region. In a report to the UN Security Council, the UN chief urged the Sudanese government to reconsider its decision to oust or dissolve the non-governmental groups and to "re-establish an atmosphere of trust and mutual confidence with the humanitarian community." While joint efforts by the United Nations and the Sudanese government "can address some of the most critical gaps in aid delivery in the coming weeks," Ban said, "the cumulative effects over time of the removal of such a large amount of humanitarian capacity puts well over 1 million people at life-threatening risk." Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir expelled 13 international aid groups and three local ones after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him in March on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Al-Bashir has refused to cooperate with the Netherlands-based court and accused the aid groups of spying for the tribunal - charges they denied.