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Page last updated at 08:46 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 09:46 UK

Sudan 'allows aid agencies back'

Sudanese children at Farchana refugee camp in Chad in June 2008
The Darfur conflict created one of the world's worst humanitarian crises

Sudan has authorised four aid agencies expelled from the country in March to return to troubled Darfur, says the UN's humanitarian chief John Holmes.

The four groups - named as Care International, Save the Children, Mercy Corps, and Padco - were among 13 organisations expelled in March.

However, Sudanese officials have strongly denied the reports.

About 300,000 people have died and two million been displaced in the six-year conflict in Darfur, the UN estimates.

Name game

Mr Holmes said Sudan had agreed to allow NGOs to go back to Darfur provided they registered under slightly changed names and logos.

"That possibility is there for all the organisations which were expelled and some of them already have taken advantage of it. They [have] now got very recently new registrations and will be restarting their operations," he said.

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But Qotbi al-Mahdi from President Bashir's National Congress Party told BBC Arabic that they were new organisations and not those which had been banned.

"The Sudanese authorities will tighten the monitoring on these organisations," he said.

Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadiq has previously said that different branches of the same organisation were free to apply for new registration. For example, the ban only concerned the Dutch and UK branches of Save the Children.

The Sudanese government expelled the aid groups in March, following the announcement that President Omar al-Bashir was being indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes in Darfur.

The aid groups were accused of spying for the ICC - claims they strongly denied.

The aid operation in Darfur is one of the world's largest, and the expulsions sparked fears of a new humanitarian disaster.

But a month ago Mr Holmes said the situation had not deteriorated as much as feared, and in many instances the gaps had been filled by the UN and the Sudanese government.

And on Thursday, he said there had been "good progress" in improving relations between the Khartoum government and the UN since the low point following the ICC indictment.



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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
South China Morning PostAid groups allowed into Sudan after name change - 32 hrs ago
UPI Expelled aid agencies may return to Darfur - 36 hrs ago
Bet.com Charities Allowed Back in Sudan; Kofi Annan Tells African Presidents to Do Better - 45 hrs ago
ABC Online Sudan 'allows aid groups back' - 53 hrs ago
Los Angeles Times Sudan allows some aid groups to return - 54 hrs ago
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