Sudan: “Mandela” refugee settlement destroyed by regime

Thousands of people from an informal settlement 20 kilometers south of Khartoum are now living in makeshift shelters after their homes were razed by Sudan’s government. Local officials said 4,000 homes were destroyed under a plan to reorganize the “Mandela” settlement, established by war refugees from the south in the ’90s, to make it more habitable. Another 6,000 are slated to be demolished. “When this is over, people will move back, build and live in peace,” said Madut Wek, secretary to the local government-backed Mandela Popular Committee. But speaking to the UN news agency IRIN, many evicted residents denied Wek’s claims. “We were living just fine there,” elderly Idriss Karama said as he watched bulldozers ploughing through the rubble of what used to be his home a few hundred yards away. “They brought us here. We don’t know anything.”

While the conditions were poor at Mandela, residents had secure mud brick homes and some had private generators providing electricity. Now they are in bivouacs of cloth and sticks. “I had a house—with a door and a key,” said evicted resident Ahmad Abderahim, a migrant from the central Nuba Mountains. “Now we are staying in the desert. We are worried about fires, sickness, criminals… If there is a fire, not one child will survive. The houses burn easily.” Mary Deng, who fled the southern town of Aweil during Sudan’s civil war, said: “If you refused to leave, they came with the bulldozer.” (IRIN, Dec. 6)

See our last posts on Sudan and the struggle in the Sahel.

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