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February 26, 2011

Khartoum has suspended the work of the humanitarian agency Catholic Relief Services

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan has suspended the work of the humanitarian agency Catholic Relief Services in West Darfur state, accusing it of distributing Bibles, a local aid official said on Saturday. It was the latest in a series of restrictions on foreign humanitarian agencies in Darfur-."The work of CRS has been suspended in West Darfur after there was an accusation that they had been distributing Bibles," Mohamed Awad, head of the government's Humanitarian Aid Commission in the state, told Reuters by telephone.
Earlier this month, Sudan expelled the French agency Medecins du Monde, accusing it of spying and helping rebels. The group was one of the few working in the rebel stronghold of Jabel Marra which Sudan's army attacked on Thursday.
The government has barred access by aid agencies to Jabel Marra for much of the past year. Dozens of aid and U.N. workers must wait for months for visas and other papers and Sudan regularly expels individual foreign staff.
Aid operations in the region have been hampered by insecurity and kidnappings of foreign workers. Khartoum has yet to prosecute any kidnappers.
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