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Sudan lifts flight ban on UNAMID helicopters.

June 17, 2010 (KHARTOUM) -- Sudanese government has lifted a ban on helicopter flights imposed last month in Darfur, the head of the hybrid peacekeeping force disclosed this week before the UN Security Council.

On 31 May, the Sudanese government had imposed a ban on all helicopter flights in South Darfur on the grounds of insecurity in the region. "I am informed that the Government of Sudan has lifted the ban on helicopter flights as of yesterday, 13 June 2010. We shall provide information on developments in this matter as they unfold to the Council through appropriate channels," Ibrahim Gambari told the UN Security Council on 14 June. UNAMID spokesperson Christopher Cycmanick told the Sudan Tribune that the ban referred to in Gambari's remarks before the Security Council was on all rotor-wing aircraft in South Darfur. The European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva was the first to raise the issue publicly on 13 June at the end of a four day visit to the restive region. She urged the government to allow the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations to get into more remote areas. The UN African Union peacekeeping operation didn't advertise the ban on its flights but intensified contacts with Sudanese officials. Gambari on 10 June raised the issue in a meeting with Vice-President Ali Osman Taha. He noted that the ban had serious implications on UNAMID's ability to carry out medical and evacuation operations, respond to emergency cases, and to supply UNAMID team sites. Following the meeting, "VP Taha issued instructions to lift the ban," said the UNAMID spokesperson. "At present, the latest we know is that flight restrictions in South Darfur on UN aircraft have now been relaxed to allow flights to all UNAMID team sites except for the Muhajeria, Shearia and Al Deain regions. However, flights between Nyala and El Fasher remain restricted to fixed-wing aircraft," Cycmanick further added. Gambari in his remarks to the Security Council blamed the government and the rebel groups for the denial of access to the affected population in Jebel Marra. "As a result of denial of access, logistics constraints and security concerns, it has not been possible to determine exact numbers but the figures for displaced persons as a result of recent fighting range between 10,000 and 50,000 in the region," he said. Reacting to Georgieva's remarks, the Sudanese foreign ministry spokesperson Muawiya Osman Khalid denied the ban saying Sudan is keen on carrying out its duties toward the civilians and fulfills its commitment with regard to provide the needy people with food and humanitarian services at any place. He said that authorities mean to protect aid workers and their properties by measures it imposed in some parts of Darfur. (ST)

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Publication:Sudan Tribune (Sudan)
Geographic Code:6SUDA
Date:Jun 18, 2010
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