September 22, 2017 (NYALA) – At least three Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) were killed and dozens of others injured Friday in clashes between security forces and IDPs who protested in Kalma camp in South Darfur against a visit by President Omar al-Bashir to the camp.
Al-Bashir is touring Darfur region ahead of a U.S. decision next month on whether or not to permanently lift two-decade-old economic sanctions on Sudan.
The youth official at Kalma camp Salih Dodain told Sudan Tribune that “government forces and militias fired heavily at the protesters killing 8 and wounding 27 others mostly women and children”.
The government of South Darfur had deployed large military reinforcements including tanks and armoured vehicles near the Kalma camp to prevent protesters from reaching the site of Al-Bashir’s reception ceremony.
Protests of Kalma IDPs since Wednesday have forced the South Darfur government to transfer the reception area to Beleil locality, 2 kilometres south of the camp.
According to Dodain, the injured have been rushed to the clinic of the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) inside Kalma while the dead were buried in a mass grave at the camp.
He pointed out that the government planes are flying over the camp to monitor the movement of the protesters.
On the other hand, IDPs spokesperson Hussein Abu Sharati said 5 IDPs have been killed and 24 others injured during the clashes.
In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, Abu Sharati has condemned the incident, calling upon the international community to intervene immediately to stop what he described as “the genocide massacres”.
He accused President al-Bashir of “personally overseeing the genocide which occurred today”, saying the latter insisted on visiting the Kalma camp forcibly.
There were no official reports on the number of the dead and injured.
Kalma camp is located at 18 km from Nyala, the state capital, near Beleil town. It is seen as the largest camp in the South Darfur with over 90,000 IDPs.
The camp’s residents; mainly from the Fur ethnic group, are known as highly politicised and supporting the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW) led by Abdel Wahid al-Nur.
Government forces targeted the camp in an August 25, 2008 raid that killed 36 residents and injured 13 others
UNAMID CALL FOR RESTRAINT
For its part, the UNAMID has expressed deep concern over the clashes at Kalma camp, saying it has “led to the death of at least three IDPs and injuries to some 26 others”.
It pointed out that the “incident reportedly occurred this morning after Government of Sudan forces dispersed a group of IDPs protesting against Sudanese President, Omar Al-Bashir’s visit to South Darfur”.
In a press release seen by Sudan Tribune Friday, UNAMID Joint Special Representative, Jeremiah Mamabolo, urged “all conflicting parties to exercise utmost restraint and is doing everything it can to de-escalate the situation”.
“I call upon everyone involved in this situation to restore calm as soon as possible. A peaceful resolution of differences is the only way forward for the Darfuri people,” said Mamabolo.
According to the press release, “a medical team from UNAMID is currently at Kalma camp to assist local authorities in treating the injured. Furthermore, the Mission is engaging with the state government and IDP leaders to peacefully resolve the issue”.
Meanwhile, al-Bashir arrived at the reception area on a helicopter after thousands of protesters gathered near the main road leading to the site.
In his address before the crowd, al-Bashir vowed to personally take charge of the IDPs voluntary return projects, instructing the South Darfur government to pave the road linking Kalma camp to Nyala.
He pledged to resolve IDPs issues and meet their security and services demands, saying he came to Kalma to meet the IDPs and listen to their demands.