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RAJA - 12 May 2023

South Sudanese returnees looted, tortured along Darfur–Raja road

South Sudanese who fled Sudan fighting arrive in Raja town, Western Bahr el Ghazal State, on Thursday, May 11, 2023. (Radio Tamazuj)
South Sudanese who fled Sudan fighting arrive in Raja town, Western Bahr el Ghazal State, on Thursday, May 11, 2023. (Radio Tamazuj)

South Sudanese returning from Sudan’s Eastern Darfur to Raja town in Western Bahr el Ghazal State said armed Sudanese men have looted their belongings and subjected them to torture.

Returnees who spoke to Radio Tamazuj upon arrival to Raja town on Thursday morning revealed that they were attacked less than a mile from a Sudanese military barracks in Nemir.

Awadhia Gismalla explained that they were followed by a military pickup truck soon after departing Nemir.

“We left the Nemir area coming back home, but after less than an hour, we were attacked, a car followed us well armed with nine soldiers. They off-loaded down all our properties after taking us into a deep forest a distance of six hours,” said Gismalla.

“They took all our important belonging, including things for our business. We just left with things that are not useful but good enough that we managed to reach Timsha,” she said.

Gismalla said they were tortured. Children were also subjected to inhuman treatment.

“We were all tortured including children, we were given a little treatment in Timsha, we have encounter loses, let the NGOs try their level best to help us, we don’t have plastic sheets, food and clothes,” she said.

The returnees called on the government and Non-Governmental Organizations to provide them with seeds for cultivation.

Partak Ismail is one other returnee. He said they were checked and everything was taken after being ordered to walk into the forest.

“We were taken into the forest and from there, we were asked to move out from the truck and we were ordered to sit separately; men alone and women alone and from there, they told us to remove everything from our pockets, money and phones,” said Ismail.

“We were off-loaded down with all our belongings. All our suitcases and boxes that had clothes were taken. When we received our bags, what was inside the bags were all gone. Everything was gone,” he said.

For his part, Raja County commissioner Adison Arkangelo confirmed the arrival of the returnees including the challenges they have faced on the way.

“For sure, we a huge number of our people who were in Sudan during the war and they are now returning due to the violence in Sudan but we are facing challenges of transport of which we are appealing to the state and national government to help us with transporting our people,” said Arkangelo.

“Today, we received on a truck that left the area of Nemir from Eastern Darfur with 65 people, but according to these people, their properties were all looted,” he said.

Arkangelo said he has written letters to the governors of East and West Darfur State to facilitate the safe movement of returnees.

“We are not happy with such an incident as an authority of the county, we have written official letters to the government of Sudan in East Darfur and West Darfur to provide good cooperation of movement to those who are voluntarily willing to return to South Sudan,” said the commissioner.