DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
CAIRO, Aug 25, 2004 (AP) — Egyptian police fired tear gas Wednesday outside the local U.N. refugee agency to disperse demonstrators who fled Sudan ‘s volatile Darfur region and were demanding refugee status from the United Nations and peacekeepers for their troubled homeland.
After angrily accusing the U.N. of failing to provide them with the formal refugee status that would ensure they won’t be forced to return to Darfur, some among the 500 demonstrators began hurling stones at the U.N. building and the outnumbered riot police forces.
Vehicles were damaged and police said at least two demonstrators were hurt; one man was seen with a gash on his forehead. Police also said some demonstrators had been arrested, but it wasn’t clear how many.
Security forces responded with barrages of tear gas and called in reinforcements. Police began chasing demonstrators through the streets of Mohandeseen, a crowded Cairo neighborhood.
A U.N. employee said most of the staff inside had been moved to a secure area within the building. Messages left for a U.N. spokesperson weren’t immediately returned.
Demonstrators complain the U.N. agency isn’t helping them enough to get formal refugee status in Egypt, which would ensure they aren’t sent home.
They also called for international peacekeepers to be sent to Darfur, in western Sudan , to disarm Arab militias there blamed for killing 30,000 people in the past 18 months and driving more than 1 million from their homes. The United Nations has described the Darfur situation as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.