More than 10 Christian churches and a church-run vocational training center in and around the sprawling Wad el Bashier displaced persons camp in West Omdurman, Sudan, have been demolished by authorities in an ongoing urban re-planning exercise affecting thousands of people.

According to sources in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, makeshift worship centers erected by Christians fleeing two decades of civil war or natural disaster have been demolished, many of them within the last two months. Some of the centers are affiliated with the Anglican, African Inland, and Roman Catholic churches, as well as the Sudan Church of Christ, they said.

"These structures have value for the displaced Christians who put them up as places of worship," one source said. "Those who knock them down are tampering with the faith of those believers, because the first thing they want to do is put up a house of the Lord."

As part of urban planning policies dating back to the early 1990s, poor residential areas in and around the camp, including some squatter camps, are being demolished and residents are slowly being allotted plots of land. But in many cases, they are rendered homeless for several months.

Sources noted that authorities step up their demolition of churches, schools, health centers, and training facilities erected by non-governmental organizations in the windy and cool winter months and most notably just prior to the Christmas season. Some mosques have also been destroyed, as have most latrines, shops, and bakeries. A recent U.N. report on conditions in the camp said brick and concrete structures, such as the main Catholic Church in the area, are not expected to be demolished.

An estimated 15,300 households have been affected by demolition in ...

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