6 February 2018

Sudan: Displaced ASSOC. Rejects Sudan's Voluntary Return Plans

Central Darfur — The Darfur Refugees and Displaced People's Association has rejected the voluntary return plans for displaced people by the state government and several native administrations in Central Darfur.

Hussein Abusharati, the spokesman for the Association, told Radio Dabanga that voluntary return depends on fundamental issues including comprehensive peace, expulsion of armed groups who have settled in the places where displaced people would return to, the reconstruction of these areas as far as possible, and the provision of basic services of life such as water, hospitals and schools.

In addition, he said that there needs to be compensation to the victims, and militias in Darfur should be completely disarmed.

"But the new settlers object to the return of the displaced to their old lands, where they live now." He pointed to a visit of a community leader, named Omda Hashim, to Kobong - an area now occupied by new settlers.

According to Abusharati, "forcing the displaced people to return to 15 villages in the area and imposing levies on them to pay for their return, is considered a form of despotism".

Emptying camps

This week the commissioner for the voluntary return in Darfur, Ibrahim El Tahir, promised to provide basic services to the returnees in three villages in the area of Habila in West Darfur. In a press statement El Tahir said that after the establishment of security, following the recent collection of weapons in the area, displaced people may return to Teles, Hamida and Delisu.

The government is seeking to empty camps in Darfur and make about 2.7 million displaced people voluntarily return. Khartoum plans the camps to become part of the cities and towns, or to voluntarily return the displaced people to their areas of origin.

During El Tahir's visit to the three villages near Habila, the commissioner said that the visit was an opportunity for the United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) to identify the needs and requirements of the returnees. The commissioner said in a statement to the official Sudanese news agency (Suna) that the visit left a good impression on the returnees.

UNHCR also organised visits to villages for voluntary returnees in Darfur for Sudanese people who have been living in refugee camps in Chad.

In December last year, the UNHCR reported that more than 4,000 Chadian refugees in Central Darfur started their voluntary return home after more than ten years in a Darfur refugee camp. A first group of approximately 301 Chadians have left Um Shalaya camp in Central Darfur for Moudeina in the Sila region of eastern Chad.

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