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‘Darfur students may apply for study fees exemption’

January 7 - 2016 KHARTOUM
students at the University of El Geneina, West Darfur (Albert González Farran/Unamid)
students at the University of El Geneina, West Darfur (Albert González Farran/Unamid)

Darfuri students at Sudanese universities can always apply for exemption from tuition fees, says Dr Salah El Doma, member of the High Committee for the Implementation of the 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur.

“The application forms [to apply for the exemption] are available at all study centres and university sites free of charge,” El Doma said.

He explained to Radio Dabanga on Wednesday that the Committee has provided assistance to more than 17,000 Darfuri students in the past few years “despite difficulties in many aspects”.

In the 2006 Abuja Peace Agreement and the 2011 Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, free enrolment of Darfuri students at Sudanese universities and higher institutes was guaranteed. The stipulation was later enforced in an agreement between the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) and the federal Ministry of Higher Education.

Yet, during the past years many universities in Sudan have refused to register Darfuri students or dismissed them because they could not afford to pay tuition fees. Protest meetings and sit-ins by the Darfuris at campuses were increasingly disturbed by militant students of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

Since early 2015, the number of assaults grew significantly. On 4 February, clashes erupted at the Omdurman Ahlia University, after NCP students verbally abused Darfur students, while they were playing football at the campus.

The “racist campaign” against Darfuri students intensified after the death of Mohamed Awadelkarim, a senior member of the NCP student wing at Sharg El Nil College, on 29 April. According to reports, a group of 150 militant NCP students attacked Darfuri students who were having a meeting of the Darfur Student Association at the campus. In the ensuing clashes, Awadelkarim was killed.

In the following weeks, Darfuris studying at universities in Sudan’s capital were assaulted. The security apparatus detained a number of them, as well as their relatives.

According to the Darfur Students Association, about 815 Darfuri students were evicted from dormitories in Khartoum, and Dongola, northern Sudan, in May.

In June, 600 Darfuri students were barred from receiving their graduation certificates at the Sudan University for Science and Technology in Khartoum, because the tuition fees had not been paid.

A few months later, in October, NCP student members, backed by police and security forces, attacked Darfuri students at the Holy Koran University in Omdurman. The students had organised a peaceful protest against the university administration’s refusal to exempt new Darfuri students from registration and tuition fees. Less than two weeks later, another sit-in was violently dispersed again. About 40 Darfuri students were held and taken to police stations in Omdurman.

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