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Armed Banditry Salts Darfur Wounds

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    Armed Banditry Salts Darfur Wounds By Ismail Kamal Kushkush, IOL Correspondent http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 6, 2008
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      Armed Banditry Salts Darfur Wounds
      By Ismail Kamal Kushkush, IOL Correspondent
      http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?
      c=Article_C&cid=1220346253188&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout


      El-FASHER, Darfur — Conflict in the Sudanese region of Darfur has
      led to the rise of armed banditry, carjacking and kidnappings, with
      humanitarian-aid loaded trucks the major target.

      "Our trucks have been attacked almost every week since the beginning
      of this year," Laurent Bukera, head of the North Darfur office of
      the UN World Food Program (UN WFP) in El Fasher, told
      IslamOnline.net.

      "Ninety-seven trucks have been attacked and sixty-nine are still
      missing. It has become very difficult to operate in this
      environment."

      One person was killed and six wounded when residents of a Darfur
      refugee camp rioted after attacks on aid convoys forced a cutback in
      their rations, Chrysantus Ache, Sudan representative for the UN High
      Commissioner for Refugees, has said.

      Hundreds of stick-wielding women in the Um Shalaya refugee camp, 70
      kilometers southeast of the West Darfur state capital El Geneina,
      attacked police in angry protests Tuesday.

      The had been told the previous day that rations would be temporarily
      reduced due to problems in delivery.

      Bukera, the UN WFP official, notes that fingering the culprits in
      many of these armed attacks is very difficult.

      "I assume they are `loose elements' in areas with no control."

      Violence has been rife in Darfur since 2003 when rebel groups took
      up arms accusing the Khartoum government of neglect and
      marginalization.

      Over 2 million have been displaced because of the conflict into
      internally displaced persons (IDP) and refugee camps.

      The UN estimates that 300,000 have died in Darfur as a result of
      conflict, disease and malnutrition. The Sudanese government says
      that 10,000 have died.

      Near Death

      "But I must work because of my family responsibilities. I have seven
      children," Mahjub told IOL.

      Hayder Ibrahim Mahjub, 48, has been a truck driver for thirty years.

      He has been attacked twice on different occasions while delivering
      humanitarian assistance for WFP trucks in Darfur.

      "In late 2007, I was driving from Raja [in south Sudan] to El-Daien
      in South Darfur," he recalls.

      "At 8:30 AM, two hours outside of El-Daien, three men appeared on
      the road, two from one side, and the third on the other side.

      "I stopped immediately because they had AK machine guns," Mahjub
      says.

      At gun point, Mahjub and his assistant, Mohammad, 17, walked out of
      the truck with their arms raised high.

      "They then told us to give them what we had, so I threw my wallet,
      mobile phone and watch toward them," Mahjub recalls.

      "I showed them where the money was in the truck. They then took our
      suit case and cloths. They were very aggressive. "I was expecting to
      die."

      His assistant was even more terrified.

      "He urinated in his pants and tears flooded his eyes," Mahjub
      describes.

      After fifteen minutes, the bandits fled with the truck.

      "We stayed in our place for thirty minutes," Mahjub says. "Mohammad
      could not stand up and cried continuously for half an hour.

      "'God saved us', is what Muhammad kept on saying," adds Mahjub.

      Carjacked

      "I think I will go drive a bus or rickshaw in Khartoum," Fadul, a
      father of seven, told IOL.

      Sadiq Ahmad Fadul, a 51-year-old truck driver, has been carjacked
      five times since the beginning of the Darfur conflict in 2003.

      "In April 2007, I was driving in a convoy of twenty-five trucks from
      El-Daien to Nyala in Darfur. I was the third truck," he explains.

      At 7:30 AM, as the convoy approached a dry creek and slowed down,
      two armed men appeared in front of Fadul's truck.

      "They fired in the air and told me to get of the truck. All the
      other trucks stopped too.

      "When I got out they started beating me with whips," Fadul told IOL,
      showing the marks of the beating on his back.

      "The beating left permanent scars on my back and I suffered for a
      month."

      Fadul, a father of seven, is calling it a quits, after driving
      trucks for thirty-one years.

      "I used to drive five trips a month but now I drive one trip a
      month. The little money I make now is not worth it. I think I will
      go drive a bus or rickshaw in Khartoum."

      Mahjub, the truck driver, explains that insecurity has led to less
      truck trips and consequently less income for him.

      "But I must work because of my family responsibilities. I have seven
      children."

      *********************************************************************

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