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Displaced set strict rules for camp searches by Sudan forces

November 17 - 2017 ZALINGEI
Military forces conduct a search in Hamidiya camp in Zalingei, Central Darfur, on 16 November 2017 (RD)
Military forces conduct a search in Hamidiya camp in Zalingei, Central Darfur, on 16 November 2017 (RD)

In a shift from the general rejection of the search for weapons in camps for displaced people on the presence of illegally held weapons, displaced people have started to welcome the inspection campaign. A search in a Central Darfur camp resulted in no weapons being found.

Differing views of displaced people in Darfur on the weapons collection campaign have led to a slightly more welcoming stance towards the inspection of camps, associations of displaced people and refugees informed Radio Dabanga yesterday.

Meanwhile the general coordination of displaced people and refugee camps continue to refuse the government forces’ entry and inspection of the camps on the presence of arms. The general coordination for camps declared its rejection of the government's plans.

Last Thursday Sudanese forces entered and inspected Hamidiya camp in Central Darfur's Zalingei, and announced that they did not find any weapons after the 8-hour inspection. “The forces did not arrest or harrass anyone,” said El Shafie Abdallah, the coordinator of Central Darfur camps, to Radio Dabanga.

“Government forces entered the camp from four directions at 6am and announced via a loudspeaker that they entered the camp to carry out the weapons collection campaign.” Abdallah claimed that three soldiers troops did assault displaced people in the market and seized a number of telephones. The military commander then promised to investigate the case.

The troops withdrew from Hamidiya camp after the inspection. According to Sudan Tribune, quoting Abdallah Eisa, a coordinator of the displaced in the state, the search operation was conducted by police and the Sudanese army, “without other forces”, in allusion to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). “The state government coordinated this with local leaders, Unamid and humanitarian organisations.”

Also on Thursday, Unamid members met with displaced people at the mission's headquarters in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur. They discussed the entry and inspection of camps by government forces. The displaced people said that the camps are free of weapons, yet they welcomed the inspection.

'Free of weapons'

Yagoub Abdallah Furi, the General Coordinator of displaced and refugees camps, told Radio Dabanga that the camps are free of weapons. “The government and Unamid [the UN-AU peacekeeping mission] know this very well.” Furi said that the government's plan to enter the camps under the pretext of collecting weapons is aimed at dismantling the camps.

Meanwhile, the Association for Displaced People and Refugees has welcomed the inspection in camps, to be carried out by the government's military or security forces, but it set-up a package of conditions which are required before the government forces enter any camp.

Speaking on behalf of the association, Hussein Abusharati also said that the displaced people in the camps do not carry weapons. “But we decided to accept the inspection of the camps, in response to the government's pressure for this, and the approval of Unamid.”

Unamid supervision

Sudan's second vice-president Hasabo Abdelrahman chaired a meeting in Kalma camp for the displaced in South Darfur mid-November to discuss the arms collection in the camps, with the South Darfur governor and a Unamid delegation headed by Gersah Sasa Polo. Unamid requested that the collection of weapons be conducted through a joint plan to be discussed later.

“The inspection should be supervised and conducted by Unamid.” - Hussein Abusharati, Displaced People's Association

In a statement this month, Unamid called on the Sudanese authorities to coordinate the search of illegal weapons in camps for the displaced with the peacekeepers. The mission immediately reacted to the “show of force” by heavily armed government forces in Kalma camp on November 1, which caused panic among the displaced people.

Abusharati: “At the top of the conditions for the inspection is the formation of a tripartite committee, comprising of the camp administration, Unamid, and the government, for supervision. Secondly, the inspection should be conducted by Unamid.

“Thirdly, the purpose of the inspection should be only for arms without the exposure of the displaced to questioning or holding their leadership. Fourthly, the government forces must immediately depart from the camp after the inspection.”

Opposition

In August, the Sudanese government launched a large-scale campaign to disarm civilians and collect illegal weapons and vehicles in Darfur and states of Kordofan, in its attempt to improve the security and stability in these regions. The campaign has entered the stage of compulsory collection of weapons by reinforcements of Sudanese military and security forces.

The compulsory arms collection is feared to lead to new conflict and internal fighting between militias in Darfur. The RSF captured Ali Rizgallah 'Safana', leader of a recently defected faction of the paramilitary Border Guards, after several clashes in North Darfur on 10 November.

Also Musa Hilal, militia leader and chief of the Mahameed clan, strongly opposes the planned integration of the Border Guards into the RSF, as part of the disarmament campaign.


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