UN humanitarian news service (IRIN East Africa)
24 April 2009
CAIRO - Staff of some of the NGOs expelled from Sudan last month have accused the government of “extorting” large sums of money from them. Khartoum has defended its demands, saying those who failed to pay what it called “compensation” might be jailed.
“They asked us to pay an exorbitant amount of money... [and said]: ‘We have your passports. Once you agree to pay, you can leave the country’,” said Jane Coyne, head of mission for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)-France, one of 13 aid agencies ordered to leave Sudan for their alleged provision of information to the International Criminal Court. On 4 March the ICC indicted Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
On 19 March, Sudan’s Labour Ministry ordered all of the expelled agencies to pay their local staff members six months’ severance pay, rather than the one month in lieu of notice that the law stipulates in most cases.