Darfur camps flooded with weapons

Sudanese children from Darfur at Gaga refugee camp, near Abeché in Chad

Sudanese children from Darfur at Gaga refugee camp, near Abeché in Chad

© Amnesty International

22 January 2008

The security situation for internally displaced people is on a knife-edge as the UN forces end their third week of operations in Darfur. Launching a new report on the country, Amnesty International warned that a generation of Darfuris is growing up in extreme fear and insecurity in camps awash with weapons – a potentially explosive combination.

Displaced in Darfur – A generation of anger outlines the current state of insecurity in camps for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Darfur and the potential consequences and possible remedies.

“Almost all of the camps in Darfur are flooded with weapons. The security situation in and outside of the camps continues to deteriorate, as hopes of a political resolution to the Darfur conflict recede and hostilities between the government and armed groups continues to escalate.” said Tawanda Hondora, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme.

“The welfare of displaced people continues to be ignored while armed groups and the government bicker and impede the complete deployment of UNAMID forces [UN forces in Darfur]. There can be no durable peace without ensuring that the security and human rights of these people are respected and upheld.”

Armed groups continue to use the camps to recruit fighters – including children. “Ali,” an internally displaced person in Abu Shouk camp, told Amnesty International: “The boys of 18 – they are lost. They have no work, especially the graduates, they live on relief.”

The internally displaced in Darfur have been left largely unprotected. The African Union force that was supposed to protect them was outmanned and outgunned by Janjawid and armed opposition groups who attacked them.

The Sudanese army and police, on the other hand – who are also meant to protect civilians – are seen as antagonistic rather than protective by the IDPs, who they often arbitrarily arrest outside IDP camps on suspicion of being members of armed opposition groups.

Some camps, such as Kalma, have members of as many as 29 different ethnic groups. Most Kalma camp residents have arms. Amnesty International has learned that many of the youth in the camp have formed vigilante groups based on their ethnic origin – Fur, Masalit, Zaghawa and Dajo. The UN recorded more than 10 armed incidents in Kalma camp between 16 and 22 October 2007.

Displaced women are at constant risk of rape when they venture outside their camps to find firewood or food. Although most victims of rape accuse Janjawid militia, there are also reports of rape being committed by members of the Sudanese army, the police and other armed opposition groups – including SLA/MM soldiers. Women also say that they are sometimes raped by displaced men inside the IDP camps.

“Mahmud,” an internally displaced person in al-Jeneina, told Amnesty International: “Women are still going out to collect firewood, which is a danger to them as they may be raped. But we men are still letting them go because the men who collect firewood may be killed.”

Amnesty International calls on the UN forces in Darfur (UNAMID) to ensure the protection of the internally displaced, including by stationing units near each camp and by constant patrolling – including accompanying people collecting firewood.

Sudan: Displaced in Darfur: A generation of anger

Index Number: AFR 54/001/2008
Date Published: 1 January 2008
Categories: Sudan

More than 90,000 people are believed to have been killed as a result of the conflict in Darfur since 2003. About 200,000 are thought to have died from conflict-related causes and over 2.3 million are internally displaced. This report focuses on the situation of displaced people in Darfur. It makes recommendations to the Sudanese government, the armed opposition groups, the international community, and to the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur.

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