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Last Updated: Monday, 2 October 2006, 07:28 GMT 08:28 UK
Displaced by Darfur: Your stories
Three years of bitter conflict between rebels, the army and pro-government Janjaweed militias in Sudan's Darfur region have led some 2m people to flee their homes.

Here, three refugees from Darfur describe to BBCArabic.com the events that led them to Britain.

Hamid Saleem (husband of Fatima Abdelshafi)
Hamid Saleem
Ex-farm labourer, 37

Fatima Abdelshafi (wife of Hamid Saleem)
Fatima Abdelshafi
Ex-farm labourer, 28 (Hamid Saleem's wife)

Mohamed Baraka Mohamed
Mohamed Baraka Mohamed
Lawyer, 56

Hamid Saleem, 37, farm labourer

Hamid Saleem (husband of Fatima Abdelshafi)
Hamid Saleem doesn't know what happened to his first wife
30 April, 2004 marked a crucial point in the life of my family.

We used to live in a small village in northern Darfur called Boba.

That day a military aircraft attacked our village. We had no choice but to leave, fleeing to the surrounding mountains.

It was the last time I saw my family.

I still don't know where my first wife and our four children disappeared to.

The Janjaweed forces also killed my brother and 15 other Darfuris in a raid and buried them in a pit.

The hole was then filled up with earth as if nothing had happened.

Even my five-year-old child was not spared the fear spread by the Janjaweed. He used to lie down spontaneously whenever he heard the voice of a flying aircraft.

I was lucky to reach London.

Then my second wife, Fatima, and our child were found in a refugee camp in Chad.

The British Red Cross helped to reunite me with them and two months ago, they came to live with me in London.

Now, my life has considerably improved compared to the lives of those who are still living in Darfur or in the refugee camps in Chad.

The British government provides us with accommodation, medical treatment and education.

I am lucky as many of my relatives are still living in appalling conditions in Darfur.

What is happening there is genocide. A specific race is being targeted - my Zagawa tribe.

Fatima Abdelshafi, 28, farm labourer

Hamid and his family (his wife Fatima Abdelshafi and their child)
Fatima Abdelshafi and her son came to London from Chad
I cannot distinguish between the government armed forces and the Janjaweed.

I cannot forget [bursting into tears] the killing of 21 people from my village. They were buried in one well which was covered with earth and then levelled.

Our herds were stolen from us and we were forced to leave our homes. We had no choice but to head for the surrounding mountains without shelter, food or water.

Why did they do that to us?

I find no single explanation for this but because we have "blue" skin - they call us the "blues".

I belong to the Zagawa tribe.

In el-Fasher, West Darfur's capital city, the Janjaweed either killed the "blue" children as they were leaving school or arrested them and then killed them later.

Three of my uncles were killed during an air-raid two years ago. Many other members of my family have met the same fate.

I am extremely worried for the safely of my relatives who are still living in Darfur.

After fleeing my village, I walked for two whole days until I reached the border with Chad. There, I lived in a refugee camp where living conditions were comparably much better.

My worst fear is for the fate of the remaining members of my family in Darfur. They, along with thousands of other families, are in real danger.

Mohamed Baraka Mohamed, 56, lawyer

Mohamed Baraka Mohamed
Mohamed Baraka Mohamed used to be a minister in Sudan's parliament
What is happening in Darfur is a result of many years of persecution against specific tribes in the province.

These tribes are viewed with contempt such as my tribe, the Fur. When I was at school, I was beaten if I didn't speak Arabic even though my tribe has its own language. This and other forms of "forced Arabisation" suggests the disrespect with which we are viewed.

This attitude is not confined to the Sudanese government - other Arab and Muslim countries are included.

Has a single Arab or Muslim country condemned what is happening in Darfur?

From my experience as a Sudanese member of parliament (2001 - 2005) for Darfur, I can confirm that what is going on is genocide.

In my village, Shuba, the Janjaweed have killed many people, burnt homes and stolen herds.

If people file a complaint to the authorities, the police are always late - at least five hours - despite the police station being only seven kilometres away.

Instead of chasing the attackers, the police question the villagers over how they procured the arms which they use for self-defence.

This happens despite the fact that the corpses of villagers are scattered around.

In some instances, the number of corpses has reached 60. For example, Shuba village was attacked on 28 April 2002 [before the rebellion began] at around 0500 local time. Though more than 600 homes were burnt, the government forces, stationed in a nearby base, only arrived at the village by 0915.

Attacks don't usually target a single village. Instead, they attack a wide range.

I support the deployment of international forces because the 7,000-strong African Union (AU) forces are incapable of protecting themselves, never mind the people of Darfur. They have been repeatedly attacked in the past.

The international forces will be empowered to stop the attacks and put pressure on the government, unlike the AU which does nothing but write reports whenever an attack occurs.

I find the attitudes of those who claim that the deployment of international forces would only bring colonial forces to Sudan odd.

Why don't they think of hundreds of thousands of Darfuris who were either killed or driven from their homes? Aren't they human beings who deserve protection?




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