Khartoum — The Wali of South Darfur, Adam El Faki, claims that the campaign of arms collection in the state helped bring more than 65,000 families back to their villages.
At a meeting in Khartoum with the Second Vice-President of the Republic, Hasabo Abdelrahman on Tuesday, El Faki said that work is underway to resettle the returnees in their villages and provide them with the necessary services.
El Faki pointed to the beginning of the second phase by planning more than 20,000 pieces of land to accommodate the displaced who are unwilling to return to their villages, to be followed by the third phase of planning the camps and then ending the effects of the war in South Darfur.
Nearly one year ago, Khartoum announced a large disarmament campaign in the country, to begin with in Darfur and Kordofan.
Members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Sudan's main government militia, and the army were tasked to collect illegal arms and unlicensed vehicles from civilians. In North Darfur alone, more than 12,500 RSF troops were deployed for this purpose.
Now, the vice-president has threatened those who do not collaborate in the process of collection illegal weapons of serious consequences they will face. "There are punishments awaiting some of them to the extent of life imprisonment and execution."
In April Governor El Faki declared that Kalma camp would be dismantled by force and evacuated within a couple of weeks, as part of President Omar Al Bashir's voluntary repatriation plan that would result in an end to the presence of camps in the state.
Kalma is with more than 100,000 displaced one of the largest camps for the displaced in the region. According to El Faki, there are 14 camps in South Darfur that hold 528,000 people.
He went as far as threatening that the state had prepared cells in a prison in Red Sea State, where they could receive detainees who stand against voluntary return, from South Darfur.
Voluntary return is one of the options which the Sudanese government gives to the people in Darfur who have been displaced by the armed conflict that erupted in 2003. Khartoum plans to transform the camps into residential areas, or integrate them into existing towns.
The people in the camps point to the insecurity that is still plaguing villagers in most parts of Darfur, despite the large yet partly successful disarmament campaign ordered by the Sudanese presidency last year. They say that it is often caused by roaming militiamen and the abundance of weapons -that have not been found and collected during the government's disarmament campaign last year- as well as the danger of running into armed new settlers in the home areas.
Sheikh Abdelrazig Yousef, spokesman for the Darfur Displaced General Coordination told Radio Dabanga in March this year that the displaced consider the current voluntary return projects initiated by the government as "intimidation.
"They want the people living in the camps to forcibly return to their villages so as to obliterate the marks of displacement," he said.