WASHINGTON (Jan. 22)
The State Department praised Sudan today for sheltering one million refugees but avoided any reference to the Ethiopian Jews: among them.
Department spokesman Bernard Kalb said that Sudan’s President, Gaafar al-Nimeiry’s remarks in a New York Times interview “appear to be a reaffirmation of Sudan’s traditional liberal policy on refugees. Over one million refugees are currently in Sudanese camps, Sudan and the international community are bearing the burden of that care, “he said. Media reports in the U.S. and in Europe over the weekend said that at least 2,000 Ethiopian Jews have died in refugee camps in the eastern Sudan since they began to flee their homeland last spring.
While noting that “the U.S. is in touch with international refugee organizations and others regarding refugees in eastern Sudan, “Kalb ignored Nimeiry’s remark in the interview that Ethiopian Jews were free to leave Sudan for any country, provided they did not go directly from Sudan to Israel.
Nimeiry told the Times that if the U.S. or European countries wished to help evacuate the refugees, they should work through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees based in Geneva.
Between November and the beginning of January, Israel admitted about 10,000 Ethiopian Jews, most of them brought in by an airlift from Khartoum to Tel Aviv, via Brussels. Premature disclosure of the operation in Israel, resulting in worldwide media attention, caused the airlift to be suspended by the Belgian charter company, Trans European Airways.