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Security breaches rise in Darfur camps housing Sudanese who have fled violence

In the middle of the night, Sudanese army and police surrounded Al Geer camp in Nyala town, South Darfur, and forcibly removed some of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to another location which is ill-equipped to care for them, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters in New York. “The site is currently not able to cater for any additional influx and as such is not suitable for any relocation.”He said roughly 15 trucks were used to relocate the IDPs. “The remainder of the population was dispersed into the surrounding area of Nyala town as a direct result of this action.”After briefing the Security Council, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Jan Pronk, told journalists that despite the memoranda of understanding the government had signed, continuous pressure on the internally displaced population (IDPs) resulted overnight in “violent pressure” on some of the 20,000 IDPs in El Geer to another location called Sherif.The IDPs were told that the move was being made in close consultation with the UN and with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), “which is not the case,” Mr. Pronk said.”This is flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. It is also in flagrant violation of the agreements reached with the government on the modalities of return and relocation of IDPs,” he said.The non-voluntary removals would have to stop, not only in El Geer, but everywhere in Darfur, he said, adding, “Stop it and reverse what has happened.”In another incident today, units of the Sudanese army and police undertook crowd control measures at a camp known as El Chareia, according to George Somerwell, a spokesman for UN Special Envoy Jan Pronk. “They fired tear gas and they fired shots in the air to try to calm the IDPs who are inside this camp,” Mr. Somerwell told UN Radio.Two weeks ago the population of El Chareia numbered 40,000, he said, and the IDPs feared that the Sudanese Government would remove them to an unknown location.The UN Advance Mission in Sudan (UNAMIS) had contacted the Khartoum Government, which is “making every effort that it can to try to calm the situation,” Mr. Somerwell said.At the UN complex in Geneva, Switzerland, the spokesman for the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ron Redmond, said his agency, along with other international organizations, has been forced to cancel missions to Darfur this week because of security problems, including the kidnapping of 18 Sudanese from a commercial bus on the road between Zalinge and Nyala last Thursday.The local authorities had blamed the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement and Sudan Liberation Army (SLM/SLA) for the abductions, he said.In the Djabel Moon and Masteri areas, near El Geneina, tensions were high and travel restrictions, lifted two weeks ago, have been re-instated. A few dozen people were reported to be leaving each night to join the refugees in Chad, but others were afraid of the dangers on the road, Mr. Redmond said.In Chad, meanwhile, “instigators” have been holding night meetings that led to unruly incidents by day, he said. Aid workers from two international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) left Breidjing Camp after some refugees brought out knives during a discussion of how to prevent the spread of hepatitis-E and demanded to know why eight of the people causing trouble had been arrested.”At the heart of the problem lies the fear among many refugees that the creation of associations to set up income-generating activities will ‘normalize’ their situation, give the impression that they are well implanted in Chad and hamper their chances of returning to their homes,” Mr. Redmond said.Given this reluctance to create associations on the basis of working trades, no such groups were established, except for the water and sanitation committee, he said.UNHCR has received $83 million of the $114.8 million sought by the agency for refugees and IDPs in eastern Chad and Darfur through the end of the year. read more

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