Shegerab Camp – Inhuman handling of refugees

Last week Africa Monitors’ member visited to Shegarab refugee camp to check for the status of Eritrean refugees who lived in the camp. But suddenly the refugees make demonstrate against the UNHCR officers for their injustice services. Here follows his account of the event.

Nov 18, 2019 at 9:00 am Sudan time, frustrated refuges demonstrated in front of the COR office in the Shagarab Camp. They prepared a letter and went to the Camp Manager, Abdein. The paper demanded, among other things, to increase the number of people to be seen daily (for interview), the interviewed ones to be given a photo slip that proves refugee status, and the letter asked who is responsible for the delays; UNHCR or COR? Unfortunately, the Manager of the Camp refused to accept the letter and threw the letter to the ground. He further asked their immediate return to their places, if not they will be incarcerated. Abdein showed no respect to the refugees at all. The reports tell that the UNHCR Representative in the Camp, Musa Ahmed, just watched the threats and abuses on refugees, did say nothing.

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Refugees in Shegerab demonistration – Africa Monitors

Refugees demonistrate agains Unhcr officers in shegerab refugee camp (1)

When the refugees resisted to return demanding that their plea be heard, Abdein called police from Girba and Wedel Hilew. Shortly, four armored vehicles with full army personnel arrived at the scene and threatened the refugees to leave. Meanwhile, Abdein asked for five representatives if he has to look at their letter to respond. Five refugee representatives were selected and allowed to enter to the office, but he, instead of listening to their demands, let them go with warning and threatening them if they happen to demonstrate again. Afterwards, the refugees were chased to return to their places. No one was hurt from the demonstration though encountered by inhuman response from the Camp management.

It’s truly heartbreaking situation where a refugee has no value, no respect, and no attention from the so called humanitarian agencies and institutions. Where is the humanity and where are the principles of Geneva conventions. Refugees are pouring to the camp, and currently there are approximately 5000 refugees in the Camp, far beyond its capacity. I am asking for whoever is concerned with refugee affairs to render their hand to save lives. We are lucky today no one is hurt, but desperate refuges are looking for a way out from this crisis.

High tension in Port Sudan

High tension due to a conflict between two of the social components of the city that left one dead and dozens of injuries. The Sovereign Council decided urgently to send a delegation to Port Sudan to monitor the security tensions in the city, council member Lt. Gen. Shamsuddin Kabbashi said.

The delegation includes a member of the Sovereignty Council, legal adviser Hassan Sheikh Idris, in addition to the Chief of Staff of the Ground Forces, the Deputy Director of the Intelligence Service and the Director of Police.

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According to eyewitnesses to the (Sudan Tribune), army forces deployed in all the intersections of Port Sudan, specifically in the neighborhood of Riyadh, which is inhabited by the tribe (Bani Amer) and the Filip neighborhood inhabited by the tribe (Nuba) and fled between the two parties amid high tension.

The events of Port Sudan are an extension of other events that occurred in earlier times in a number of cities in the east, including Gedaref, Khasham Al-Qirba and Kassala, between the same groups (Nuba and Bani Amer).

The Central Doctors Committee of Sudan announced the death of one person and the injury of about (49) people during the events in Naeem neighborhood in Port Sudan last Wednesday evening. The committee called on doctors to go to the hospitals that received the injuries to help the wounded. The MSC held the security authorities and the state government fully responsible for maintaining the security and safety of the state’s citizens.

The Committee called on the competent authorities to take all serious security measures and precautions to prevent the recurrence of such events. Witnesses from the city told (Sudan Tribune) that the conflict between the two groups continued to renew without any obvious reasons, there is no common territory between them can be a cause as usual tribal conflicts in Sudan.

Witnesses accused unnamed parties of being behind the fueling of the conflict between the two groups to undermine the social fabric and peaceful coexistence among the people of the city.

Witnesses confirmed that the events of Dar Al-Naim neighborhood in Port Sudan are in violation of the document of agreement and peaceful coexistence signed by the two groups earlier.

The Sudan Central Doctors Committee said that Port Sudan Hospital received (4) bullets injuries, besides (25) other injuries of varying severity, while Prince Osman Hospital received two bullets lying in intensive care.

The statement confirmed that the Port Authority Hospital received (8) gunshot wounds, besides (19) injuries varying, including three injuries to the regular forces, adding: (There is a death as a result of gunshot wounds).

The gathering of Sudanese professionals said in a statement that it monitored the attempts of what he described as trainees to fuel the tribal conflict among the citizens in the city, stressing that the first priorities of the transitional authority to provide safety and protection and bloodshed.

He demanded the mayors, youth, tribal elders and their wise leaders to lead serious initiatives to resort to the voice of reason and to stay away from the bloody conflict and continue the (imitated) agreed, because it is the path that achieves justice to the rule of law, through which anyone who commits an offense and the rights of its people are held accountable.

source: https://www.alnilin.com/13072374.htm (Arabic)

HOW UNHCR EGYPT’S PROTECTION OFFICER CALLED RIOT POLICE ON REFUGEES DEMANDING PROTECTION

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Eritrean refugees in Egypt went to the UNHCR office in Cairo on 21 July to demand better protection from the agency which legally represents all recognised refugees in the country. As the 500 refugees reached the agency office, UNHCR personnel asked them to send two people to deliver their message and explain their grievances. The refugees asked Abdulhadi Mohammed and Denden Ismail to deliver a letter and speak to UNHCR personnel about the security concerns of Eritrean refugees in Egypt.

One of the staff who talked with the two refugees was the chief protection officer (a Kenyan lady whose name will be update later) who asked them if they were the organisers of the march and if they had written the letter which listed the refugee’s grievances. They told her that they were simply a part of the march, and they came in to the office because the refugees were asked by her to send some people to deliver the letter which was written by the Eritrean Refugee Community.

The two refugees told the visibly angry protection officer that the refugees were thankful for all the work that the UNHCR office does, but that they still have serious security concerns which the community had reported to her on multiple occasions in the past. They then asked her to let them meet the head of UNHCR Egypt. The ‘protection officer’ kept insisting that the two were the ‘criminals’ who wrote the letter and that they were the organisers of the march. She then told them Eritrean refugees in Egypt have no problems whatsoever, and that they have no right whatsoever to ask anything from the UNHCR, insulted them and did her best to disempower them. She also blocked their request to be allowed to talk with the head of UNHCR in Egypt.

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As soon as the refugees saw that the protection officer was in very combative and violent mode, they thanked her for her cooperation and politely withdrew. The rude and threatful ‘protection’ officer then went ahead and called the police telling them some Eritrean refugees had attacked the UNHCR compound. She then followed the two refugees and promised she would show them who she is, and told them they would be punished severely for daring to hint that she was not doing her job properly by demanding better protection from the UNHCR.

The UNHCR staff were in shock as they saw their chief protection officer attacking the refugees verbally, telling the police the refugees were planning security sabotage, promising to punish them even more and watching with satisfaction as police brutally beat them up.

After receiving a call from the protection officer, the police outside started beating up the refugees who were outside the compound. Other UNHCR staff were helpless witnessing the crazed protection officer’s assault and the police’s misguided actions prove the very point the refugees were trying to make.

Denden and Abdulhadi were rounded up by police at the compound and taken to jail. By the time they were being kidnapped from the UNHCR office, the march had been dispersed very violently by police. Many of the refugees had been severely wounded. All the women were crying and desperately calling for help as the UNHCR delivered the punishment it promised.

The other three detainees; Feday Yemane, Hermon Goitom and Yonatan Biemnet, were rounded up on the streets as they returned home from the march. UNHCR staff suggest police might have recognised them because most of the young men at the march were violently and severely beaten by riot police.

None of the five detainees, all of whom hold UNHCR refugee protection papers, have been allowed to communicate with their families and community. They have not yet found any legal representation.

All of the five refugees are being held at a prison in 6th of October (ستة أكتوبر) City. Sources from the district police say the refugees are being held with more than 40 other detainees in a four square metre cell. Sources who are connected with the district public prosecutor’s office confirm that no legal representation for the refugees has approached the public prosecutor’s office and that the refugees, most of whom do not speak Arabic, will be forced to represent themselves at court.

Egyptian citizens who had been through the Sita Aktober prison say that holding conditions are subhuman in the unventilated, overcrowded and extremely unhygienic cells where prisoners are routinely beaten to force confessions. Rape is very common and deliberately overlooked.

Our Egyptian contact who volunteered to talk with UNHCR staff and with police sources was unable to confirm if the protection officer at UNHCR Egypt is the same foul-mouthed Kenyan lady who was working at the South Sudan UNHCR office in Juba in 2013-2014 and who kept insulting and kicking out Eritrean refugees who came to the office to apply for asylum. Whether it is the same person or two, this only shows serious problems with some UNHCR personnel and with the way the agency recruits their staff.

Living conditions are getting worse at Shegerab Refugeee camp

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Eritrean refugees’ situation in Shegerab refugee camp, Sudan is getting worse. Our monitor from Sudan communicated with some of the refugees and they explained to him that there is shortage of basic necessities like food, water and shelter and their conditions are abject. In addition, as it is rainy season, the refugees are prone to different epidemic diseases, sadly the UNHCR and other concerned organizations are not acting to improve their conditions.

In other news, On 22nd and 23rd of July 2019, Sudanese security forces in Khartoum, Sudan conducted rounding up of Eritrean refugees who do not have residence permits in the city. So far 86 Eritreans are detained in Arebi and Omdurman prisons and are going to pay some amount of money which will be determined by court for their release.

The Eritrean refugees are continuously victims of repeated rounding ups, detentions and financial fines. Last month, for example, those who were rounded up and detained paid 10,000 Sudanese Pound for their release.

Though according to the Sudanese laws, refugees are required to have residence permit or renew their papers, the amount of money required to get or renew residence permit is becoming expensive (it has increased from 500 to 2000 Sudanese pound).

Free Eritrean refugees detained in Egypt

On 21 July 2019, Egyptian police violently dispersed 500 Eritrean refugees who were holding a peaceful demonstration protesting UNHCR handling of Eritrean refugees in Egypt. The police also rounded up 90 of the demonstrators and took them to a prison outside of Cairo. The detained refugees are being taken to court within these two days and without any legal representation.

On the same evening, the police released most of the detained refugees but separated five of them and made them to remain in jail. The police had already confiscated the refugee papers of the five refugees when they rounded them up. They are now being held at the Haya AlAsher prison in 1st October City and being interrogated intensively, presumably to force them to agree they were planning something more than a peaceful protest.

Many of the refugees suspect that some Eritrean government supporters had a hand in misinforming the Egyptian police to convince them the refugees were planning something political rather than demanding that the UNHCR in Egypt do its job properly and according to its mandate. If no preventive action is taken, the refugees might get deported to Eritrea where, as outspoken critics of the human rights violations in Eritrea, they will be in immediate danger to their lives. The Eritrean government would like to see the deportation of these refugees as that would help to silence voices of dissent from Eritreans in abroad.

The UNHCR office in Egypt has not yet released any comments on the issue. The UNHCR office in Cairo has not met or talked with the refugees regarding the demonstration.

The five Eritrean refugees who are still being held by police have not committed any crimes. They are simply being held for protesting corruption within the UNHCR office in Egypt.

Having left their country to escape human rights violations by an extremely repressive tyrannical dictatorship, these refugees now find themselves detained without cause.

We ask all relevant organisations, including the UNHCR, to work to find a fast solution to this urgent issue as the police prepare to take them to court within the next two days.

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