18 August 2006

United Nations Expresses Concerns at Forced Relocation of 12,000 Displaced People in Greater Khartoum

KHARTOUM, 17 August, (UNMIS) -- It has come to the attention of the United Nations in Sudan that, on 16 August, the Sudanese authorities began demolishing the houses of the large community of long-term Internally Displaced Persons in Dar Assalam, forcing the 12,000 residents of the area to relocate against their wishes.

A United Nations verification mission to the area witnessed heavily armed policemen and tanks stationed around the community, which is located about 43 kilometres south of Khartoum.  Residents said that bulldozers had begun demolishing hundreds of houses at around 8 a.m. that morning, with hardly any notice to the families.  The United Nations Mission also heard gunshots before being refused entry and told to leave the area.  Reports have been received of deaths and injuries of residents within the camps, including the death of a child.

The United Nations is deeply concerned about this incident, particularly in view of the fact that both the authorities and the residents had signed a Memorandum of Understanding stating that the residents of Dar Assalam would not be relocated from their existing homes until a site that was acceptable to both parties had been found.  Under the Memorandum of Understanding, residents had agreed to relocation on condition that they had formally approved the new site.

The United Nations demands that the Sudanese authorities cease this operation immediately and return to the process of dialogue with residents to find a mutually suitable site for relocation that meets internationally recognized standards, as previously agreed to by all parties in writing.  The United Nations requests immediate access to the area to assess the humanitarian situation and the assistance needed by the affected population.

The residents of Dar Assalam have lived on the current site for over two decades.  Many of them fled from west Sudan in the 1980s during the famine of that period.  The United Nations has already offered to share its extensive experience of population relocations with the local authorities, including the importance of adequate facilities at the relocation site, consultation and information sharing with the affected population and the management of the relocation.  The United Nations remains ready to provide all necessary assistance to ensure that any relocation of the people of Dar Assalam takes place on the basis of the Memorandum of Understanding and with due regard to the human rights and humanitarian needs of all residents.

For further information please contact Ms. Radhia Achouri, Spokesperson, UNMIS.  Tel.: +249 187 086 029; +249 912 392 270; e-mail: .

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