OUTLAWS vs LOST BOYS, EGYPT, 2007
Down Cairo way, around a decade ago, Reuters had no problem at all identifying a serious problem with Sudanese gangs.
They were active, deadly, and – in the case of one young gang member – considering a move to Australia:
Marc wears a New York Yankees cap, loves rap music and has “Los Angeles” scrawled in black ink across his forearm, but he will probably never see the United States.
The 21-year-old is one of an estimated 1 million Sudanese refugees living in Cairo. Poor, jobless and subject to racist abuse, he has few aspirations other than to leave Egypt.
“I will go anywhere. Maybe Australia,” he said, standing on a rooftop in the Cairo slum where he lives with other refugees, mostly from south Sudan.
South Sudan, you say?
Marc, who was reluctant to give his full name, is a member of the Outlaws, one of Cairo’s biggest Sudanese street gangs, a new and violent phenomenon that has emerged in the past two years within Cairo’s impoverished Sudanese refugee community.
A month ago, Marc watched a close friend, Maliah, die in the street outside a World Refugee Day celebration after the rival Lost Boys gang hacked at his skull with machetes.
Community leaders and experts say about five Sudanese have died gang-related deaths in the past year but there is no official record.
The report claimed that many young Sudanese dealt with their situation …
… by joining gangs, said Akram Abdo, a gang researcher at the Forced Migration and Refugee Studies department at the American University in Cairo.
With gang membership now estimated in the hundreds, many young Sudanese living in gang-dominated neighborhoods feel forced to choose between one gang or the other.
“The way it is, you need to choose a gang to be in. If you don‘t, they might see you in the street and attack you,” said Marc …
The gangs, whose members are typically in their late teens and early 20s, base their membership not on tribe or religion, but on the Cairo neighborhoods that they claim to defend, Abdo said.
Community leaders say fellow Sudanese are often the victims of muggings and robberies, which pay for the gangs’ lifestyle of expensive clothes and parties.