South Darfur camp protest turns deadly, Unamid calls for restraint
(UPDATE 17:20) Reportedly five people died in protests against a visit of the Sudanese president near Kalma camp in South Darfur. The African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur is treating the wounded.
The Kalma camp coordinator released a statement earlier today reporting that five people were killed this morning, and 26 people sustained injuries. The coordinator provided the names of the deceased and said that the wounded are being treated in the Unamid base in the camp. At least three people were killed and approximately 26 people were wounded, according to the Unamid peacekeeping mission in a press statement received by Radio Dabanga.
The deadly incident occurred this morning after forces of the Sudanese government dispersed a group of displaced people who were protesting against the visit of the Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir to South Darfur. 'For security reasons' the presidential road show had decided to avoid Kalma camp and diverted to Beleil locality instead, which is nearby Kalma camp Centre 1. Smoke from the clashes can be seen in the background of photos of the road show, which Radio Dabanga received through WhatsApp (photo left).
In its press statement Unamid urged all conflicting parties to exercise utmost restraint and “is doing everything it can to deescalate the situation.
“I call upon everyone involved in this situation to restore calm as soon as possible. A peaceful resolution of differences is the only way forward for the Darfuri people,” said Unamid Joint Special Representative, Jeremiah Mamabolo.
A medical team from Unamid is currently in Kalma camp to assist local authorities in treating the injured, the mission stated. Furthermore, the mission engages with the state government and leaders of the displaced communities in an attempt to peacefully resolve the issue.
Al Bashir addressed a mass public rally in Nyala yesterday, where he spoke of the return of the displaced to their villages of origin, and encouraged the state to develop formal housing for those who are eligible.
On Monday, dozens of representatives of the camps for displaced people met in Kalma and handed a letter to Unamid with the request to secure the peaceful marches that displaced people plan to hold, without the risk of being subjected to repressive or violent actions by riot police. The statement continues explaining that displaced decided to hold peaceful marches for a period of three days from today until Thursday – for this, they called on Unamid to provide security during these days.
Representatives of the displaced in South Darfur have been unambiguous in their rejection of Al Bashir’s visit. Sheikh Ali Abdelrahman El Tahir, the head of camp Kalma which has seen four days of protests, told Radio Dabanga yesterday that “President Al Bashir is not welcome in the South Darfur camps for the displaced,” he said. “We don't want to see his face here.”
Yagoub Abdallah Furi, the Coordinator of the Darfuri Camps, confirmed to Radio Dabanga that “the demonstrations will continue with the same force on Friday in conjunction with the announced visit of Al Bashir so that both local and international opinion will know what Kalma is talking about”.
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