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UN Emergency Relief Coordinator urges Sudan to drop charges against MSF official

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator urges Sudan to drop charges against MSF official

Jan Egeland
The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator today appealed to Sudan to drop charges against a senior official of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) who is apparently being targeted for the agency's publication of a report detailing violence against women in the country.

“I am very concerned about the arrest of Paul Foreman, country director of MSF-Holland, in Khartoum earlier today,” Jan Egeland said in a statement.

Mr. Foreman has been released on bail.

Confirming the incident on its own website, MSF said the British national has been charged with crimes against the State. “MSF is being accused of publishing false reports, undermining society in Sudan and spying,” said the humanitarian relief agency known for operating under dangerous conditions. It voiced outrage at the charges and rejected an suggestion that the report was false.

Urging Sudan's authorities to drop all charges against Mr. Foreman immediately, Mr. Egeland said MSF-Holland “is a crucial partner in our relief effort in Darfur,” the country's war-ravaged western region.

According to MSF, the charges relate to “The Crushing Burden of Rape: Sexual Violence in Darfur,” which the agency published in March.

“Faced with hundreds of women and girls seeking medical care following rape and sexual violence in Darfur, MSF wrote and published the report in order to raise awareness about the ongoing violence against women,” the agency said, noting that the document “does not accuse the Government of Sudan.”

Mr. Egeland, a UN Under-Secretary-General, stressed that MSF's work in treating victims of rape and sexual violence and in speaking out about the terrible crimes being committed, has been exemplary.

“It is an incontestable fact that rape and sexual violence are rampant in the ongoing crisis in Darfur,” he said. “The Sudanese Government, the UN and international NGOs only recently made substantial progress in addressing this issue; efforts that must continue to ensure that all victims of sexual violence receive assistance and protection.”