Sudanese officials have been pressuring people to leave refugee camps in its wartorn Darfur province in recent weeks, and United Nations officials say the regime has even forcibly loaded some civilians onto trucks to clear them out.
Rights activists say Sudan hopes to empty the camps before January, when a U.N.-African Union force of 26,000 peacekeepers is to deploy in Darfur. Some refugee leaders think the Arab-dominated regime wants to scatter the ethnic African refugees before a national census.
Sudanese officials agree they want the camps to close, saying the camps have become too big, squalid and dangerous and have made refugees too dependent on humanitarian aid. They insist, however, that no one is being forced to leave.
But this week, U.N. officials said they had evidence Sudanese government forces were chasing refugees out of at least one camp — Otash, which houses 60,000 people on the outskirts of south Darfur's capital, Nyala.
"Given that security forces were threatening the displaced with sticks and rubber hoses at Otash camp, the involuntary nature of this relocation is clear," the United Nations' humanitarian chief, John Holmes, said in a statement.
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