The United States on Friday slammed as “reckless” and “callous” Khartoum’s decision to expel more than a dozen aid groups, saying it put millions of people’s lives at risk in Sudan’s western Darfur region.

“The United States is gravely concerned by the reckless decision of the Sudanese government to expel international aid groups working to ease the suffering of Sudan’s citizens,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told reporters.

“The humanitarian situation in the country is already dire and this callous step threatens the lives of innocents already suffering from years of war and upheaval,” she said in a conference call.

The move by Sudan came after the International Criminal Court charged President Omar Hassan al-Bashir with war crimes in Darfur. Khartoum ordered 13 high-profile aid agencies out of Darfur, including Oxfam and Save the Children, accusing them of passing evidence to the court.

Rice spoke shortly before the U.N. Security Council held closed-door discussions on Sudan. Diplomats said council members could not agree on a statement because of differences over whether it should mention the ICC arrest warrant.

“Millions of civilians, including untold thousands of children and elderly people, will be left even more vulnerable to starvation, disease, despair and death if the government of Sudan does not immediately change course,” Rice said.

“The government of Sudan at its own choosing is now heading down a path towards even greater international isolation.”


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