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UNAMID chief threatens to hand over Kalma delegates to Sudanese government - IDPs

August 11, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — Representatives of Kalma residents in South Darfur state today said they were threatened by the head of the hybrid peacekeeping mission that he will hand them over to the Sudanese authorities if they refuse joint patrols by local police and peacekeepers.

Ibrahim GambariThey further urged the international community and the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to intervene and save their life.

Ibrahim Gambari held a series of talks in Khartoum where he pledged to cooperate with the local authorities to clear the camp of weapons and to ease the tension there.

But Sudanese official asked him to hand over six people suspected of taking part in clashes occurred recently among the residents over the participation in the peace process.

The six representatives of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the camp took refuge in the premises of UNAMID police since 19 days.

In an exclusive interview with Sudan Tribune Wednesday, the five sheiks and a woman said the Joint Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari met them on Wednesday in presence of a government delegation led by state minister for humanitarian affairs Mutrif Sideeg.

According to the IDPs representatives in the troubled camp, Gambari asked them to accept the presence of joint patrols formed by the Sudanese government and the hybrid peacekeeping mission.

"If you refuse to accept this deal I will have no choice but to hand you over to the Sudanese authorities," Gambari told them according to the six representatives who are still in the UNAMID policing center inside the camp.

Residents of Kalma camp resist the presence of Sudanese police inside the camp and refuse it since six years.

In August 2008, the police tried to enter inside the camp but the residents opposed the move and the security forces killed some 32 IDPs.

Since then the UNAMID established policing center inside the camp and organized patrols around the camp to protect its residents from nocturnal attacks by militias.

In July 2009, IPDs representatives asked former of the UNAMID Rodolphe Adada to put barb wire around the camp. They further called on UNAMID to construct major streets in the camps with lighting in order to reduce nighttime attacks.

The representatives of Kalma IDPs refused the offer of the joint patrols saying they were deeply shocked by the presence of the Sudanese minister in the meeting.

They further said they were happy when they had been informed about their meeting with Gambari because he is the "representative of the UN Secretary General but they found in him a representative of the Sudanese government".

They said they feel their life is in danger and appealed on Ban Ki-Moon and the international community to intervene in their favor to protect their life.

Kalma camp is located outside Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, and is home to about 100,000 people mostly seen as supporters of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) leader Abdel Wahid Al-Nur. Sudanese authorities describe the Kalma camp as a den of outlaws and armed robbers hoarding weapons, ammunition, explosives, narcotics and stolen goods.

The South Darfur governor last week disclosed his intention to remove the camp because it lies near the railway station and Nyala Airport. This proximity to the airport increases the "security threat for UNAMID planes," he further said.

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In a separate interview, the spokesperson of Kalma IDPs camp, Yagoub Furi urged the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to remove his special representative in Darfur because he becomes "a representative of the Sudanese government".

He further said the international community should change the mandate of the peacekeeping mission and empower it to fully protect the civilians. The current mandate allows the largest operation in the world to only open fire to protect themselves and to protect civilians from eminent attacks.

Yagoub said they were expecting Gambari to come alone and to meet them. "But he refused to meet us and to take memorandums that we prepared for the intention of (UN chief) Ban Ki-Moon".

He added that the IDPs were disappointed when Gambari came to the camp accompanied by Sudanese government officials who considers the residents of the camps "as criminals".

He denounced the proposition of joint patrols saying the government troops forced them to flee their villages in 2003 and 2004 to seek international protection in the camps where they are often attacked by the militias.

"How we can accept such idea while the same government announced that it would dismantle the camp and we fear to be subjected once again to the previous atrocities," he said referring to the events of August 2008.

The UNAMID said Wednesday "large regions of the settlement appeared deserted, the inhabitants having left for either the nearby UNAMID Community Policing Center, Nyala or one of the surrounding villages".

According to Yagoub, Gambari told the six representatives that his mission is not to protect the IDPs but to promote efforts to achieve peace in the region.

"If he thinks that, then he has to meet (SLM leader) Abdel Wahid Al-Nur, but not to meet the IDPs," he commented.

(ST)