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British diplomat accuses Sudan of withholding aid supplies

Britain's ambassador to the UN has said Sudan is preventing peacekeepers in Darfur from providing emergency relief. The Sudanese government denied any wrongdoing.

Matthew Rycroft, Britain's ambassador to the UN, had strong words for Khartoum on Wednesay, accusing the government of blocking essential supplies from going to the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, also known as UNAMID.

"It has been going on for weeks and weeks and it needs to stop," Rycroft said.

The envoy told reporters he will raise the issue during a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday, insisting that if the shipments don't resume soon, monthly costs for the supplies will jump from $3 million (2.63 million euros) to $13 million.

Rycroft said the Sudanese government has denied any knowledge of the supplies being withheld.

Fraught relations

Khartoum doesn't have the best relations with UNAMID, having ordered the aid organization out of Sudan last year after UNAMID said it would investigate mass rapes allegedly committed by Sudanese troops in Darfur.

UNAMID was established in 2007 to provide security and humanitarian aid to the people of Darfur, where a conflict has been waged for more than ten years between the Sudanese government and rebel groups.

According to UNAMID's website, tens if not hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the fighting, while nearly two million have been displaced.

blc/msh (Reuters, AP)

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