Annan hears Darfur camp horror stories
KALMA CAMP: Secretary General Kofi Annan was plunged into the chaos of war-torn Darfur on Saturday when he was greeted in a western Sudan refugee camp by accounts of rape and murder and civilians venting their anger at Khartoum.
Annan, who flew to Nyala in South Darfur on the second day of his visit to Sudan, went to the nearby camp of Kalma, which hosts an estimated 110,000 Darfurians displaced by two years of civil war.
“Down, down with the government,” chanted angry civilians as Annan toured the over-populated dusty camp, one of the largest in the world for displaced people.
They complained of abuses by the Sudanese authorities inside the sprawling camp and demanded to be resettled in another country.
Annan then met with tribal leaders in the camp, who charged that the Sudanese authorities and their infamous Janjaweed proxy militia were continuing to perpetrate crimes against displaced civilians. “Since March 1, 56 people were killed in the camp by Janjaweed and policemen. The latest incident happened as recently as yesterday, when two people were shot,” said Suleiman Abu Bakr, who spoke in the name of all tribal leaders.
He also claimed that a total of 172 people had been injured over the same period and 580 women raped in recent months.
International aid agencies could not confirm the exact numbers but have abundantly documented cases of abuse and killings against displaced people in Darfur.
The tribal leader alleged that a 10-year-old girl was raped and her family then given 200 Sudanese dollars - or less than one US dollar - as compensation by the offenders. “I want the secretary general to guarantee that I will not be arrested for reporting this,” Abu Bakr said during the meeting.
After being consulted by Annan, the accompanying Sudanese State Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Mohammed Yusef Abdallah gave his word no-one would be detained over the allegations. “This is totally not acceptable and we will work with the authorities to make sure the IDPs (internally displaced people) are protected,” Annan said, visiting the camp for the first time in a year.
Humanitarian workers acknowledged that security even inside the camp remained a problem and stressed the need to beef up the presence of African Union troops. “When the AU is present, security improves,” said a joint statement by several aid agencies read out to Annan during a briefing in the compound of a Norwegian NGO. afp