Sudan: South Darfur to Turn Camp, Including Displaced, Into Town

Nyala — The South Darfur government has started planning the transformation of El Sareif camp for displaced people, south of Nyala, into a permanent town for the displaced to settle permanently. People are also encouraged to return to their home areas.

Speaking to residents of El Sareif camp, 6 kilometres south of the capital of South Darfur, Governor Adam El Faki demanded from the residents to clear out all the streets in the camp, to allow for the re-planning. A date for completion has not been mentioned.

The transformation into a residential area is meant for the displaced people who wish to settle here permanently, he explained. The camp would be transformed into El Sareif town instead of El Sareif Camp.

"Displaced people will be granted residential plots inside the new town, and they have the right to stay or return to their villages of origin." El Faki called on the residents of the camp to cooperate with the Ministry of Physical Planning.

He added that the security situation in the area is stable and that displaced people who prefer to return their villages of origin can do so, in order to carry out their normal farming activities.

2.7 million displaced

The government is seeking to empty or abolish camps in Darfur and has given the people three options for this. The first plan embodies the voluntary return of the about 2.7 million people who have been displaced by the conflict that erupted in 2003, to their home areas. Additionally, Khartoum plans for the transformation of the camps into residential areas, or to make camps integrate into existing cities and towns.

Last week the commissioner for the voluntary return in Darfur, Ibrahim El Tahir, promised to provide basic services to the returnees in three villages in West Darfur. Security in these areas has been established, he said, following the recent collection of weapons in the area.

Since the signing of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur in July 2011, the Sudanese government has constructed several model villages intended to house displaced Darfuris returning to their home areas. It also vowed to support displaced people who want to return to their home areas.

Voluntary return of displaced people and refugees, however, remains a challenge for both the Sudanese government as the displaced themselves. Insecurity caused by roaming militias and the abundance of weapons, as well as the danger of running into armed new settlers in the home areas has kept at bay many of the displaced people living in camps.

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