The President of Sudan has openly defied calls for his arrest, and defended his decision to expel aid workers from his country. Omar Hassan al-Bashir sported traditional robes as he denounced aid agencies working in Sudan as spies and thieves. Last week the International Criminal Court charged him with masterminding the devastation of Darfur. Bashir responded by banning 13 foreign and three local aid groups, accusing them of passing information to the court. He also announced that he would travel to Darfur himself later today.
Ethnic African Darfur rebelled against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government six years ago. In the ensuing violence more than 300,000 people have been killed, and nearly three million forced to flee. Many of them depend on aid to survive, and the expulsion of the aid workers has drawn widespread outrage and fears for the refugees’ safety. Even members of al-Bashir’s own government admitted the loss of aid could spark a humanitarian catastrophe.