Sudanese missing in Jordan after deportation
After Jordanian authorities forcibly evacuated a makeshift camp of Sudanese asylum seekers in Amman on 16 December to deport them to Sudan, a number of people went missing.
Asylum seeker Habib Mohamed Adam told Radio Dabanga from the Jordanian capital that “children, brothers, and other family members disappeared in the chaos on Wednesday. We have not been able to find out their whereabouts so far”.
He said that most of the Sudanese nationals, who were able to flee, are hiding in remote places in Jordan. “They suffer from fear and the cold, without knowing their fate.”
On Wednesday morning, a number of Sudanese asylum seekers were injured in a police raid on their tent camp in front of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) office in Amman. Thousands of them set up the makeshift camp more than three weeks ago, demanding more protection, better housing, and treatment.
One of the deportees told Radio Dabanga that 921 out of the 1,000 people in the camp were detained. On Thursday, the deportation procedure of about 500 asylum seekers was completed. The Jordanian security imposed tight security on the rest of them (see videos taken by one of them below).
“Sudanese embassy staff members just laughed while they saw us being beaten and humiliated.”
Jordanian government spokesman Mohamed El Momani said on Friday that 430 deportees arrived in Khartoum that day. The decision to deport the Sudanese nationals was taken in coordination with the Sudanese authorities.
According to El Momani the definition of a refugee does not apply to the Sudanese, as they received a visa to visit Jordan for medical treatment and did not obtain refugee status.
Sudanese asylum seekers reported more than once that the majority of those who were forcibly deported were carrying documents proving they are refugees.
The Jordan authorities only gave the UNHCR two hours’ notice of the deportation decision, spokesman Mohamed El Hawary commented on Friday.
The Sudanese asylum seekers said that Jordanian security officers stormed the place where they were sleeping Thursday night. “They threw tear gas and beat us before handcuffing and cramming us into buses to take us to the airport for deportation to Khartoum.
“Sudanese embassy staff members, accompanying the Jordanian security officers, just laughed while they saw us being beaten and humiliated.”
The people deported to Khartoum on Friday reported that they were treated “like criminals” upon arrival.
“Jordanian authorities should focus on ensuring the protection of this vulnerable group of Sudanese instead of trying to deport them.”
UNCHR spokesman El Hawari said that the agency does not have any assurances regarding the situation of the deportees, because they have not received a list with details about the approximately 800 Sudanese nationals who were and are to be forcibly deported to Sudan.
He said that they are conferring with the Jordanian authorities to halt the deportation process, especially as the majority of the deportees from the Darfur region could be at risk if returned there.
The UNHCR is still awaiting a list with the names of the deportees, the spokesman said. In case the list includes people with refugee or asylum seeker status in Jordan, the agency will take the appropriate measures.
El Hawari confirmed that 430 Sudanese were deported on Friday. The rest of the 800 people detained on Wednesday will be leaving on five Amman-Khartoum flights.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement on 16 December that what was done by the Jordanian authorities is in violation of international law that prohibits governments to return people to places where they risk persecution or torture, or inhuman treatment, or degrading punishments.
While not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, Jordan is nevertheless bound by the customary international law principle of non-refoulement, whether the person seeking asylum has been officially registered or not, HRW said. “Jordanian authorities should focus on ensuring the protection and well-being of this vulnerable group of Sudanese instead of trying to deport them.”
The Sudanese Democracy First Group, the Darfur Bar Association, the Sudanese Congress Party, and the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minawi, also condemned the deportation.
They consider the action as a violation of international treaties and conventions, and hold “the UN and its agencies in Jordan” responsible for what has happened to the deportees.
El Sadig Ali Hassan, Secretary-General of the Darfur Bar Association said that the deportation of the Sudanese refugees has been “a deal of mutual interests between the two regimes”. He did not elaborate on the issue.
According to the Jordanian newspaper El Ghad 3,480 Sudanese are registered as refugees with the UNHCR in Jordan, out of a total of about 687,000.
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