Thursday, July 26, 2007

Egypt: Sudanese gangs afflict Cairo streets with violence

Heather Sharp:

Maliah Bekam, 24, came to Egypt to escape the civil war in southern Sudan, but he died in a pool of his own blood in a Cairo street.

The fatal machete blows came from members of his own community. The crowning irony is that the attack happened outside an event marking World Refugee Day.

Maliah is the latest casualty of violence between rival street gangs from Cairo's Sudanese community.

Unofficially (there is no official figure), the death toll is at least four in the last 18 months.

Deng, 22, says he has witnessed two killings. Like others associated with the gangs, he did not want his real name published.

"They fight about nothing. They use knives and sticks. Sometimes you'll see more than 10 people injured," he says.

Clad in silky tank tops, trainers and baseball caps, the Lost Boys, Outlaws and other gangs base their loyalties not on tribe or religion, but on territorial claims to areas of the Cairo.

Members are usually in their late teens or twenties, love rap music, often live together in shared flats and socialise at parties and picnics.

But they also rob fellow Sudanese, attack other gangs and beat up youths in their area who refuse to join.

Teacher David Awo Farajalla, 30, has scars on his head and shoulder from when he was mugged by gang members on his way home from church.

"I just heard a sound in my head, and then started seeing the blood. They took the money and ran away."

Aywel Jonathan, 20, says he was targeted for refusing to join a gang: "I was on the street, they attacked, cut me on my hand and beat me. It was a very big knife."

Gang violence: one more reason to no accept refugees.


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