Abu Shouk Camp, 7 miles north-east of al-Fasher, is one of the biggest camps of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in North Darfur. It contains 30 blocks and more than 80,000 persons from nearly all ethnic groups in Darfur, but mostly from the Fur, Tunjur, Berti, Zaghawa, Gimer, Fellata and Hawara.
The purpose of this survey was to find out the humanitarian situation in Abu Shouk Camp. It took seven days from 23/1/2012 to 30/1/2012 and was carried out through interviews with a number of IDPs at the camp. Our findings are as follows:
IDPs said that formerly the WFP gave provisions by the month of an amount considered the basic necessities to support life in bread, oil, sugar, Mix, etc. This was handed over to the IDPs on production of a card showing the number of people in the household. However, the present situation is that each IDP just receives only 22 Sudanese pounds (about $8¼) per month; i.e. they no longer receive provisions but goes and buys goods worth 22 SDG from merchants who are contracted by WFP. This has made the situation very bad and spread dire poverty in the camps. The displaced have had to go out and seek other ways of gaining a livelihood. In addition many of the households have lost fathers and brothers leaving women as the heads of households and they therefore have to work in marginal low–paid jobs, as cleaners, domestic servants or day labourers in al-Fasher earning only 4-5 SDG per day.
This amount does not meet their daily needs and this search for daily work in al-Fasher has resulted in the sexual exploitation of women and girls who become pregnant, causing a large number of illegitimate births.
Formerly there were centres working in this sphere and the IDPs found excellent medical care, but now the health situation has gone back to zero. In this extremely large camp there is the Sudanese Red Crescent and the Arab Egyptian Centre which work for just four days a week and an hour per day. There are no specialised doctors and you only find few drugs like flajil and pandol and if your case needs more than these you have to go to the free market. So the health conditions for IDPs are poor and medical care is lacking.
The Security Situation
People say that the camp has become an arena where the vehicles of police, security and central reserve police are constantly moving around and there are cars carrying different weapons of all calibres. This has a negative impact on the life of IDPs; who had originally come to the camp as a refuge from the traumas and displacement suffered from attacks. Now you are finding many arrests in the camp. People may find themselves arrested simply for expressing their opinion about the government, and in fact a large number of IDPs are actually working for the security, in particular the camp sheikhs who are often directly serving the government’s agenda and are actually closer to the security than to the IDPs.
As for the activists and human rights defenders they suffer continuously from human rights violations, prosecutions and arrests. For example Mohammed Ali Kanjir was arrested in the market in Abu Shouk on 25 December 2011 by security personnel and at the time of writing has not yet been released. Two women activists, Nafisa Mohammed Adam and Hawa Abdallah suffered human rights violations and prosecutions and were lately detained for more than one month; now they are in Cairo.
One of the most dangerous methods used by the government is that of arming its clients among the IDPs. This has led to loose security and as a result arms are being used in minor quarrels and in liquidations for personal reasons. In one example there were exchanges of fire among the IDPs in Blocks 16 and 25 of Abu Shouk a month ago which ended in injuries on both sides.
The legal situation:
There was greater security in the past as there was an NGO, the Merkaz al-Adala wa’l-Thiqqa (Centre for Justice and Trust), which worked to establish the principles of justice, and its resolution was accepted by all in the camp. This centre was able to find a solution to many of the conflicts inside the camp, and made settlements between the conflicting sidse same like court judges. These settlements would be accepted because people were satisfied with the response. This caused conflicts within the camp to diminish. In addition the Centre was a bridge for communication between IDPs and legal aid centres in al-Fasher, such as the Amal Centre, which would follow cases which came before the courts through to the end, and provide legal aid for IDPs through a network of lawyers. In addition the centre was working in training and awareness-raising for IDPs in law and human rights culture. However, both the Centre for Justice and Trust and the Amal Centre were closed by the Sudan Government in 2009.
The legal situation of IDPs is such that there is a need for legal support, but there is a total absence of any such support. This is directly correlated to the increase in cases of domestic violence and personal status and other conflicts. So the IDPs are not opening pleas, especially as regards to rape. (there was one case of a woman raped within Abu Shouk by regular soldiers, but while proceedings were being taken to open a case, she came under pressure and decided to withdraw the plea and changed her testimony.)
The Situation of Women
The survey devoted part of its work on the situation of women because of the importance of women’s role in society while it is evident that special attention must be paid to empower women to play this role. We found that women in Abu Shouk Camp used to have work in the past and had practised different manual activities which gave some return in their income. There was a positive contribution from different organizations working in training such as CHF and SUDO until their closure. They provided IDPs in the camp with local materials which they could use to make handicrafts and training in marketing and accounting. Since the closure of these NGOs women in the camp have become impoverished and are unable to bring in materials to produce handicrafts. Thus the practice of working in marginal jobs in al-Fasher to meet their families’ needs has begun.
This survey was carried out by a trustworthy NGO which prefers to remain anonymous for its own security.