Dozens killed in Sudan refugee camp

August 26th, 2008 - 5:33 am ICT by IANS  

Nairobi/Khartoum, Aug 26 (DPA) Forces loyal to the Sudanese government have massacred dozens of people in a refugee camp in South Darfur, a rebel group claimed Monday.The BBC, quoting a spokesman for a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army, said that 27 people had died in the Kalma camp, where around 80,000 people live, when Sudanese troops opened fire.

However, confusion surrounds the death toll in the camp - which is near Nyala, the capital of South Darfur - with various sources giving both higher and lower figures.

The joint UN-African Union peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) said it was attempting to verify the reports.

“We have our people inside the camp and they are assessing the situation,” UNAMID spokesman Noureddne Mezni told DPA.

In New York, spokeswoman Marie Okabe said the UN was “gravely concerned” about the reports of violence that “resulted in injuries and deaths of civilians” and urged restraint so that the injured could be evacuated.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that reports had first come in of Sudanese security forces surrounding the camp and that later data pointed to heavy civilian casualties.

OCHA said that it was “gravely concerned” by the attacks and called for a humanitarian corridor to be established to allow the injured to be evacuated.

The Sudanese government claims that rebel supporters are hiding among the refugees, but Kalma residents say that Khartoum-backed militia persistently raid the camp.

The conflict in Darfur began in 2003 when black tribesmen took up arms against what they call decades of neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated Sudanese government in Khartoum.

The UN says up to 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced by five years of conflict.

The Sudanese government has been accused of using the Janjaweed militia to commit atrocities against Darfur’s black population and suppress the rebels.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in July asked for an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir on war crimes charges relating to Darfur.

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