24 January 2014

Sudan: 'Government Sells Out Darfur Areas to Tribes and Foreigners'

Zalingei — The conflict in the Darfur region has turned into a struggle between displaced people, tribes and foreign settlers over land, according to the coordinator of camps for the displaced in Central Darfur this week, who blames Sudan's ruling party.

The coordinator of the Central Darfur camps explained to Radio Dabanga that many areas experience organised settlements by pastoral tribes and foreigners from neighbouring countries. "There are 31 villages in Mukjar, Bindisi and Umm Dukhun localities that have entirely been occupied by pastoral tribes and foreigners from neighbouring Chad, Central African Republic, and Mali. This especially happens in the villages of Amar Jadid, Saroukh, Abu Jaradel and Bilail."

He reported that the leaders of the native administration, the displaced people and the council of Fur tribes (shura) of Central Darfur state held a meeting with the state secretariat and the leaders of "new settlers" on Tuesday.

"Their statements were conflicting as some said they have purchased the lands from the former Governor of West Darfur, Jaafar Abdel Hakam, while others said that the Khartoum regime has rewarded them with the lands because they supported in defeating the opposition."

The latter confirmed at the meeting that they continue to support Khartoum in the ongoing war in Darfur, and others claimed that "the regime promised to keep them in these lands if they voted for them in the elections in 2015".The attendees decided to form a committee to raise the issues of settlements to the state's government.

"The native administrations and the displaced people refuse the occupation of their lands under any name", the coordinator explained, "as land is the only thing left for the people of Darfur." He stressed that each tribe in Darfur should regain their hawakeer (lands traditionally used by a particular clan or tribal group) and territory. The coordinator appealed to the omdas, sheikhs and citizens not to obey the orders of those affiliated to the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) who "carry out schemes aiming to occupy the lands of others, indicating that it will lead to more friction between farmers and herders."

Darfur's land ownership issue

The Unregistered Lands Act of 1970 entitled the Sudanese government to use force in safeguarding land and encouraging the accumulation of land by a minority of rich investors (local or foreign), causing the alienation of pastoralists from their hawakeer.

Inter-tribal fighting over resources has been a major source of insecurity and displacement of the civilian population, particularly in the states of Central and South Darfur, the UN Security Council stated in its quarterly report on Thursday.

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