Tina — Fifty-three Sudanese refugees have returned to Sudan after living in eastern Chad for more than 14 years. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Commissioner of Refugees (COR) welcomed the first convoy in North Darfur.
Sudanese refugees fled to Chad following eruption of conflicts in Darfur in 2003 and 2004. This first return follows the signing of a tripartite agreement in May 2017 by the governments of Sudan and Chad and UNHCR for the voluntary repatriation of 20,000 Sudanese refugees from Chad this year.
"The returnees were warmly received by the Commissioner of Tina locality, the Commissioner of Refugees and UNHCR Representative in Sudan as well as leaders of local administration and community in Tina," said the UNHCR in a press release on Monday.
UNHCR said that the Sudanese returnees were assisted with a reintegration package and transportation from the reception centre in Tina to their home villages in North Darfur.
Former Sudanese refugees after their return to North Darfur (UNHCR)
Some 300,000 Sudanese refugees currently reside in eastern Chad. Adam El Nour Abakar, who fled Sudan to Chad 15 years ago and returned home voluntarily, said: "I'm so happy to return back to my country with my family. I really feel comfortable and content.
"I am eager to catch the agricultural season in my home area in Kebkabiya."
In February, Sudan's President Omar Al Bashir instructed the acceleration of work on the voluntary repatriation of Sudanese refugees in Chad and the return of Chadian refugees in Sudan. Following this the UNHCR has also assisted refugees from Chad in leaving the camps in Central Darfur to return home. Starting this month Mukjar camp is set to close, as it hosted Chadian refugees for more than 10 years.
The Commissioner of Refugees, Hamad El Gizouli, emphasised that "the Sudanese Government attaches to the voluntary return of refugees as being the best solution for them so that they can begin to rebuild their life as Sudanese citizens."
Throughout 2018 Radio Dabanga has received reports of attacks on people leaving the camps for the displaced and returning to their home areas. Witnesses said that the insecurity is often caused by roaming militias and the abundance of weapons, as well as the danger of running into armed new settlers in the home areas
In March, about 400 displaced of El Neem camp returned to their village at Areit area but were attacked and beaten by unidentified gunmen who injured two of them. The sheikhs said that the displaced returned to El Neem on the orders of the locality commissioner.