24 September 2017

Sudan: South Darfur's Shattaya Youth Condemn Visit By Sudanese President

Shattaya — During his visit to Shattaya in South Darfur on Friday, President Omar Al Bashir called on the people of Darfur to unite, reconcile and cooperate to achieve peace and stability. The youth in the locality denounced the visit.

Addressing a rally in Shattaya, Al Bashir stated that Khartoum will support the people of Darfur in their endeavour to return peace and security to the region.

He said that the collection of weapons from civilians will continue, and emphasised that the carrying of arms should be confined to the armed forces.

The president also pointed to the government's determination to return the displaced people to the areas of their origin, and to provide them with clean drinking water, electricity, health care, and education.

'New settlers'

The youth of Shattaya strongly condemned the visit of the president.

"Those who participated in the rally are new settlers. They took over the area after the original inhabitants fled to Kalma and other camps in the vicinity," Mohamed Eisa Suleiman, head of the Shattaya Youth told Radio Dabanga.

"The people of Shattaya categorically rejected the contents of his speech. They also regretted that Al Bashir did not offer his condolences to the families of the Kalma demonstrators who were shot dead by government forces on Friday*," he said.

He said that the people from Shattaya living in Kalma camp actively participated in the protest marches against Al Bashir's visit. "Two of the five displaced who were killed by the authorities on Friday and seven of the many wounded are originally from Shattaya.

"We will never pardon any person who committed mass crimes," he added. "In Shattaya alone, 25 villages were attacked and burned, and more than 2,000 people have been killed by government-backed militias. Thousands fled their villages and are now surviving in the camps for the displaced."

He called on Al Bashir to turn himself in to the International Criminal Court.

Violence

*On Friday, five residents of Kalma camp, located near the South Darfur capital of Nyala, were reportedly killed, and 26 others were wounded in an attempt by the authorities to halt demonstrations against the visit of President Al Bashir to the camp.

In a press statement, the UN-AU peacekeeping Mission in Darfur (Unamid) said that they sent a medical team to the camp to assist in treating the injured.

The Mission urged all conflicting parties to exercise utmost restraint and "is doing everything it can to de-escalate the situation".

On Monday, representatives of the displaced handed a letter to Unamid with the request to protect them during the demonstrations they planned to hold against the visit of Al Bashir.

Kalma camp

The protests in Kalma forced the South Darfur authorities to transfer the reception area to Beleil locality, two kilometres south of the camp.

The official Sudan News Agency (Suna) reported that President Al Bashir "who addressed the gathering of displaced from within Kalma camp, with over 250,000 displaced, stressed that his visit comes because he wanted to listen to what the displaced wanted to say and get a first-hand information about their demands.

"The president promised the displaced that he would return in kind the zeal and enthusiasm they showed in his reception," the report reads.

Kalma is one of the largest camps for the displaced in Darfur. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the camp housed about 128,000 residents in 2016.

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