On 29 and 30 October 2008, Sudanese media published statements made by the Deputy Secretary General of the National Air Companies Chamber, Mr. Omar Ali Abdul Majid, and the Head of the Chamber of Pilots, Mr. Seif El Dine Hassan, accusing the UN of trespassing the rights of the Sudanese national air companies by using foreign airlines to transport peacekeeping troops to Darfur.
In his statement, the Deputy Secretary General said that the "UN is ignoring national air companies by chartering and contracting other companies under the umbrella of the UN to transport these troops." He hinted that this move "seriously impacts the air industry in Sudan... causing financial losses suffered by Sudanese companies, which reached $1 billion since the eruption of Darfur crisis." He also disclosed that the Chamber had contacted the parties concerned requesting them to "end contracting with foreign companies, confining that to National Companies only."
The Head of the Chamber of Pilots, in his statement to the media, urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Civil Aviation and the Parliament "to give concessions to national companies particularly in terms of relief items to Darfur." He accused the UN of "exploiting its status as an international body by assigning air cargo concessions to foreign companies." He noted that "national air companies are deliberately ignored."
UNAMID rejects any allegation that it discriminates against national air companies and should like to emphasize that the Mission does not deal with such matters locally. Contracts for air assets, support and related activities are handled by UN Headquarters in New York through transparent, competitive bidding. Furthermore, rotation flights for the transport of Peacekeepers to and from Darfur are organized by their respective Troop Contributing Countries. These troops are airlifted either by their own national air companies or by a third party on the basis of bilateral agreements.
In addition, since its inception, UNAMID has always given and continues to provide opportunities to Sudanese companies to compete with other bidders for the services and goods it needs for its operations. UNAMID also recruits national staff members, mostly from Darfur, to serve with the Mission, curbing unemployment among young people, enabling them to assist their families, thus contributing in no small way to the local economy. There are currently 1,804 national staff working for UNAMID, out of a target recruits number of 3,455.