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Darfur refugees say Arab militias attack camp daily

10/6/2005 7:09pm

By Opheera McDoom
RIYAD CAMP, Sudan, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Arab militias attack the Riyad camp in the Sudanese region of Darfur daily, beating residents and raping women with impunity, camp residents said.

Many said African Union (AU) forces monitoring a shaky ceasefire in the region have not done enough to stop violence against around 15,000 refugees at the Riyad camp, just outside West Darfur's capital el-Geneina.

"Daily they come in and beat our people. But no one does anything," said Darfuri Yehya Ahmed. "They come on horses and camels. They rape our women and try to scare us away to force us to go home," the elderly camp resident told Reuters.

"They (the AU troops) just come and write reports which don't go anywhere," he said. "They have been here now for more than a year and still we live in terror -- we cannot go home."

Aid workers confirmed that armed men, often drunk, regularly come into the camp to rape women and beat up camp residents.

Fighting has escalated in Darfur in the past few weeks despite AU-sponsored peace talks in the Nigerian capital Abuja.

During the 2-1/2 year-old revolt by mostly non-Arab rebels in Darfur tens of thousands have been killed. The rebels accuse Khartoum of neglect and of monopolising power and wealth.

The Sudanese government has said it would disarm pro-government militias including the Janjaweed, accused of a campaign of rape, killing and burning in non-Arab villages.

Hundreds of makeshift camps like Riyad shelter more than 2 million people who fled their homes during the fighting.

"They (the AU) need to be disarming the Janjaweed, otherwise there is no use," said camp resident Mahmoud Moussa. "Even the aid workers are attacked by the Janjaweed."

Aid workers in Darfur who number almost 11,000 have in the past few weeks been confined to the remote town of el-Geneina town near the Chad border because of increasing violence.

British Minister for Africa David Triesman who is visiting Darfur said there was little evidence anyone had been disarmed but that disarming all sides was essential to stop the violence. Britain is the second largest donor to Darfur.

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