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Sudan eases restrictions on aid groups

May 8, 2009 at 7:40 AM

KHARTOUM, Sudan, May 8 (UPI) -- Sudan says it will allow more humanitarian aid groups into its Darfur region and will let those already there to expand their operations.

Two months after expelling 13 foreign aid groups in the wake of the International Criminal Court's issuance of an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Bashir, Khartoum's minister for humanitarian assistance, Haroun Lual Ruun, said the groups are now welcome, the BBC reported Friday.

"We have also agreed to further improve the (non-governmental organizations') operating environment by easing travel and visas restrictions, by reviewing the need for individual technical agreements for NGOs," Ruun said.

The Sudanese official made the comments during a visit to Sudan by U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes and U.S. envoy to Sudan Scott Gration, the BBC reported.

Although Ruun seemed to welcome NGOs, the organizers of an Ethiopian conference to address the humanitarian situation in Darfur told the BBC they may have to cancel the event because Khartoum is allegedly canceling participants' passports and harassing would-be attendees.

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