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South Sudanese refugees beaten, arrested in East Darfur camp raid

October 19 - 2016 BAHR EL ARAB
Refugees from South Sudan in Ed Daein, East Darfur - March 2016, (Abdulrasheed Yakubu/Unamid)
Refugees from South Sudan in Ed Daein, East Darfur - March 2016, (Abdulrasheed Yakubu/Unamid)

Militiamen raided South Sudanese refugees in a camp in East Darfur on Monday, and later took 12 wounded people into custody from the hospital.

Members of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police (Abu Tira militia) entered Kario, the camp for South Sudanese refugees in Bahr El Arab locality, at 1pm, apparently searching for illegal liquor-making operations (the sale, manufacture, and trafficking in alcoholic beverages is strictly illegal in Islamist Sudan).

A witness told Radio Dabanga that the paramilitary force arrived in three Land Cruisers and that several of them opened fire into the air. Camp leaders were beaten, the witness said.

“The Abu Tira raided the camp looking for producers of home-made liquor,” he said. 12 people were beaten, including a pregnant woman activist named Abuk Kuak, the representative of women in Kario camp Rebecca Garang, camp representative Margo Agok, and five young people.

The 12 were transferred to Ed Daein hospital for treatment. “The Abu Tira came to the hospital and took Agok, Garang, Kuak, and the other wounded people to the police station in the city, where they are held in custody.”

No mention was made as to whether any actual winemaking was found.

According to a source, a meeting took place at the time in which members of the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (Unamid) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) participated. “The attack on the refugee camp happened under the gaze of Unamid and UNHCR forces,” the source claimed.

In response to a query by Radio Dabanga, the UNHCR said it was unable to comment on the report until they have full information about the reported incident.

New refugee camp

Kario camp was opened in July and thousands of South Sudanese refugees voluntarily relocated to the new site from Khor Omer camp, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported in September. In 2016, over 90,000 South Sudanese arrived in Sudan, of whom about 60 per cent are in East Darfur.

UNHCR has urged donors to provide further funding and support to the South Sudanese refugees, adding that without it, the UN agency and partners will struggle to provide emergency assistance to this vulnerable population.

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