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Darfur IDPs fear return to their villages despite miserable conditions in camps

Some 63,000 IDPs sought refuge in a safe zone adjacent to UNAMID's team site in Sortoni, North Darfur on 23 April 2016 (Photo UNAMID/Mohamed al-Mahady)
September 3, 2016 (NYALA) - Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at a number of camps in Darfur have refused to return to their original villages despite repeated calls by the government saying they wouldn’t return until security is being achieved there.

Head of IDPs and refugees association Al-Shiekh Ali Abdel-Rahman told Sudan Tribune on Saturday that IDPs conditions is deteriorating, pointing that displacement continues to take place in Central and North Darfur states due to ongoing clashes around Jebel Marra area.

He said the IDPs can’t return to their villages for insecurity, pointing to the humanitarian tragedy in the camps due to the severe lack of food after the aid groups reduced food rations by more than %40.

Abdel-Rahman stressed that several IDPs were killed on their way back to their homes at the hands of the armed militias that seized control over their villages.

He pointed that voluntary return could be carried out only after establishing security and ensuring safety of IDPs’ lives and property besides removing the new settlers who controlled their villages and farms.

Abdel-Rahman also stressed the need to compensate the IDPs in a fair way and to provide them with the basic services, underscoring importance to achieve transitional justice and social reconciliations as well as bringing perpetrators of genocide to trial.

He said that government moves to convince the IDPs to engage in the voluntary return programs is nothing but an attempt to put their lives and property in danger of genocide, pointing the IDPs are forced to stay in the camps despite their miserable conditions because they have no other option.

The government seeks to dismantle IDPs camps that have been established on areas around the capitals of Darfur’s five states since the eruption of the armed conflict in the region.

An official source told Sudan Tribune Friday on the condition of anonymity that the government of South Darfur state intends to dismantle IDPs camps by the end of this year, saying these camps tarnish the reputation of the region.

He pointed that all parts of the state are secure and stable, stressing there is no need to keep these camps.

Governor of South Darfur state Adam al-Faki had previously said their top priority now is to dismantle IDPs camps after they crushed the rebellion and achieved reconciliation and peaceful coexistence among the various tribes.

He offered the IDPs three options, saying they should either be integrated into existing towns, stay in the camps after they are being planned or return to their original villages voluntarily.

South Darfur government has reconstructed a number of villages but failed to convince to return particularly following the killing of several of them at the hands of armed groups affiliated with the government who claim ownership of the land.

Also, nine IDPs from Hashaba village for voluntary return, 86 km south of Nyala, South Darfur capital were killed last Sunday which raised IDPs fears about moving to these villages.

UN agencies estimate that over 300,000 people were killed in Darfur conflict since 2003, and over 2.5 million were displaced.

(ST)