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Police raid Ethiopian, Eritrean refugees in Sudanese capital

July 20, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese Police are reported to have began a series of crackdown on the neighborhood of Ethiopian and Eritrean refugee communities in the capital, Khartoum.

Since July 5, truckloads of Sudanese police along with government security forces have raided homes and refugees-owned business centers of hundreds of Ethiopians and Eritrean refugees confiscating properties of their restaurants and homes.

Some refugees on condition of anonymity said that some women and children were beaten and raped by members of the joint force.

UNHCR protection officer in Khartoum Teresa Ongaro confirmed to VOA that there was a series of raids of "refugees and illegal workers over the weekend." But the UN officer said that she has not heard any reports of police raping women and children.

There are about 30 thousand refugees in Khartoum and about 100 thousand in Eastern Sudan bordering Eritrea.

Many go to Khartoum to find a better life, but are exposed occasionally to ill treatment. She said UNHCR personnel and lawyers have interviewed 314 victims of the recent raid, and determined that 91 fit the UNHCR qualifications for refugees. She said these refugees were freed the next day.

The refugees say more than 50 have already been deported.

Similarly, southern Sudanese authorities are carrying out crackdown in all the Southern Sudan’s ten states, targeting illegal immigrants whose influx has now been blamed on the worsening insecurity in the region.

Local authorities have blamed a number Kenyan refugees for increased insecurity in the region, most of whom are perceived to be part of several heavily armed gangs that have been terrorizing residents of Juba city and its environs especially at night.

Last month, the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) directed security agents to firmly deal with rising cases of insecurity that have also seen a number of foreigners lose their lives in attacks by gangs.

(ST)