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Humanitarian crisis looms in Darfur, say aid workers

Thousands of children on feeding programmes face starvation, patients awaiting surgery have been left in doctorless wards and 90,000 refugees are now defenceless against a deadly meningitis outbreak in a single camp in Darfur, say international aid workers expelled from Sudan.

"A lot of lives will be lost," said Dr Philip Ejikon, from the Dutch division of Medécins Sans Frontières, in Nairobi yesterday. MSF Holland's operations which had been providing basic medical care to as many as 450,000 Darfuris have been dismantled.

The expulsions were a retaliation for the international warrant charging President Omar al-Bashir with war crimes in Darfur, where a rebel war is raging. "They targeted large organisations which did large food operations, medical programmes, water and sanitation," said MSF Holland's general director Hans van de Weerd. He said his organisation alone was feeding 2,000 young children and had delivered 50,000 babies in the past year.

The government accused MSF and others of working with the International Criminal Court; they strongly deny it.