Sudan tells French aid worker to leave oil-rich flashpoint
Sudanese authorities have ordered a French aid worker to leave immediately a contested oil-rich area in the middle of the country.
KHARTOUM, March 12, 2008 - Sudanese authorities have ordered a French
aid worker to leave immediately a contested oil-rich area in the middle of the
country, US-based humanitarian group Mercy Corps said on Tuesday.
"I just spoke with the local government down there... They have some issues
with one staff member. He's leaving Abyei," said the organisation's country
director for Sudan, Richard Haselwood.
"Our programmes are continuing as normal. They have concerns about one
individual. We are complying with their request," added Haselwood, unwilling
to comment further until he had more information.
French aid worker Jean-Jacques Franc de Ferriere, 56, spent two years
helping to build up healthcare and education in Abyei where Mercy Corps says
up to 70 percent of the population has been displaced in the last 10 years.
Details of the incident were murky but aid workers speaking on condition of
anonymity said the French man was falsely accused of telling the Sudanese
health minister it was too dangerous to visit.
Neither the other expatriate Mercy Corps staff member nor the more than 30
Sudanese staff members in Abyei are affected by the expulsion order.
The still undefined status of Abyei, rich in oil and of vital economic
importance, is a source of massive tension between the northern, mainly Arab
Sudan and the south despite the end of a 21-year civil war in 2005.