Jordan tears down camp housing 800 Sudanese people, plans to deport them

AMMAN, Jordan -- Jordan plans to deport about 800 Sudanese men, women and children to Sudan, a government spokesman said Wednesday, after troops tore down a makeshift tent camp for the displaced in a pre-dawn raid.

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The UN refugee agency urged the government not go through with the deportations.

"We are in constant contact with the authorities and we have been advocating ... to halt any possible return to Sudan because these people may face persecution in their country," said agency spokeswoman Helene Daubelcour.

The Sudanese had pitched the camp outside the refugee agency's headquarters a month ago, demanding resettlement to third countries. One of the camp residents, Ahmed Douri, said troops arrived at about 3 a.m., ordering people out of the tents and forcing them to board buses.

The Sudanese were driven to an airport where the buses were surrounded by troops, Douri said. He said Jordanian officials demanded asked that they hand over their passports, but that many did not comply.

Government spokesman Mohammed Momani said the Sudanese had entered Jordan under the pretext of seeking medical treatment and that "asylum conditions don't apply to them." He said about 800 would be deported to Sudan.

Douri said he and the other displaced Sudanese are from the troubled Darfur region and that it is dangerous to return there. He said the vast majority were registered as refugees by the UN agency and were entitled to international protection.

Daubelcour said she did not know the exact status of each Sudanese, but "we expect that many are registered with us."

Jordanian authorities informed the UN agency of the planned raid shortly before it happened, but did not say the refugees would be deported, Daubelcour said. Officials only said they would evacuate the camp, which was pitched on public land. She said the evacuation proceeded without violence. Douri said the camp evacuation took place without violence but added that some of the Sudanese were beaten by authorities at the airport.



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