5 April 2013

Sudan: Thousands Protest Against Timing of Doha Donors Summit in Darfur

Photo: Medecins Sans Frontieres
Waiting for change.

Darfur — Thousands of displaced persons across Darfur staged protests against the timing of the upcoming donors' conference in Doha.

They say the region continues to witness genocide, war, killings, displacement and rape amid the absence of security and of a comprehensive peace agreement.

The donors' conference is aimed at raising funds for the development and reconstruction Darfur within the framework of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD). Qatar's government will host the summit scheduled for 7 and 8 April in Doha.

Displaced from dozens of camps in Darfur held demonstrations on Friday. Their main general demand, before any conference takes place, is the enforcement of security in the region.

This is followed by the disarmament of militias, expulsion of new settlers from their lands of origin, trial of perpetrators, and the end of genocide, displacement, systematic rapes and aerial bombardments.

Protests were held by residents of Zalingei, Nertiti and Girayda camps, respectively in Central and South Darfur.

In addition, one camp in each of the following cities staged demonstrations: Kalma, South Darfur; Murnei and Deleij, West Darfur; and Kabkabiya, North Darfur. Two sites in Kass, South Darfur, also joined.

"No to genocide"

Demonstrators chanted slogans against the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) that "continues waging war". They strongly denounced partial peace agreements and urged the international community not to donate any money during the conference until their demands are met.

Zalingei displaced, in particular, chanted "No, no to the Doha and Nyala conference ... No, no to forced return ... No, no to genocide and the selling off of the Darfur issue".

Rallies were interrupted in Murnei, Girayda and Zalingei for Friday's prayers and displaced held a minute of silence in memory of the "souls of the victims of genocide in the past decade". They also noted that April has been declared the Genocide Awareness Month.

Thousands of displaced of Girayda camps marched towards the local UNAMID headquarters after Friday's prayers and lodged a memorandum to the mission with their demands for peace and security in Darfur.

A spokesman told Radio Dabanga the memo was backed by Murnei's residents and he added that the upcoming donors' conference does not reflect the will of the displaced.

Nertiti's demonstrators complained that women are constantly raped, noting this is "a weapon of war used by the government and its militias against the displaced". They accused UNAMID of failing to keep them safe and demanded better protection.

Demonstrators chanted slogans with their demands and expressing their rejection of the donors' conference, "which is held at a time of poor security situation".

Meanwhile, protesters of Kalma camps peacefully marched towards the local UNAMID headquarter denouncing the degradation of security and calling for the temporary cancellation of the summit in Doha.

Hussein Abu Sharati, spokesman for the association of displaced persons and refugees of Darfur, told Radio Dabanga the displaced there too handed over a memo to UNAMID with their demands.

He said protestors in South darfur also demanded donors not to pledge any money in the Doha conference, "because funds will not reach the displaced but the government which is committing genocide against them".

A Kabkabiya camp's representative confirmed that local displaced also submitted a memorandum to UNAMID during the rally against the timing of the conference.

Alike in other areas, he said funds raised in the summit would be used in armed operations to "annihilate the remaining residents in Darfur villages". He demanded UNAMID and the international community to fulfill its duties towards civilians.

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