NAIROBI (AlertNet) – An outspoken former United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Sudan has been blocked from visiting refugee camps in Chad and expelled from the country.
An estimated 300,000 people have been killed and over 2 million displaced since conflict broke out in Sudan’s western Darfur region in 2003.
While heading the U.N. office in Sudan in 2004, Mukesh Kapila famously compared the atrocities being committed in Darfur to the Rwandan genocide.
After last week arriving in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena, Kapila’s permission to visit some of the 200,000 Darfuri refugees in the eastern desert was suddenly withdrawn.
“This was initially blamed on glitches in the paperwork,” Kapila said in a statement by the Aegis Trust, a British non-governmental organisation with which he was travelling and that campaigns to prevent genocide.
“It soon became clear, after I was summoned for a personal interview with the Interior Minister, that the real causes involved a great deal of political concern and possibly some kind of pressure from the Sudanese Government,” Kapila said.
“I was summoned again and ordered to leave the country.”
He described Darfur as a “forgotten crisis”.
Kapila also accused the Sudanese government of carrying out war crimes in South Kordofan, a state bordering newly independent South Sudan.
“Ahmed Harun, the suspected operational architect of the genocide in Darfur, is still in a position of power in South Kordofan, where he’s doing exactly the same thing,” he said in the statement.
Fighting between government forces and rebels broke out in South Kordofan in June. Months of bombing and fighting have created a dire humanitarian situation, with more than 300,000 displaced.
The rebel SPLM-N forces fought on the side of South Sudan during its lengthy war for independence, citing marginalisation by Khartoum.
According to a leaked U.N. report, the Sudanese army has carried out killings, arbitrary arrests, abductions, attacks on churches and aerial bombardment in Southern Kordofan which, if proven, might constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Sudanese government has dismissed the U.N. report as unfounded and malicious and has said it will form its own committee to assess the situation in South Kordofan.
Under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, South Kordofan and Blue Nile state, which also fell north of the disputed border after the south seceded, were offered popular consultations to decide their future relations with Khartoum, but these have yet to take place.
“If the world deals with Sudan as though we have moved on, it sends a signal to the regime that it’s okay to go around committing mass murder; that the world will look away and they can continue to do their dirty deeds,” Kapila said.
(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)