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'Armed settlers occupy farms': North Darfur returnees

June 27 - 2017 TAWILA
Government soldiers and militia members looting in Marla, 2004 (HRW)
Government soldiers and militia members looting in Marla, 2004 (HRW)

Displaced people returning to their farms in Tawila, North Darfur, encountered armed herders who prevented them from cultivating their land.

A number of returnees, including farmersfrom Abu Shouk and Zamzam camps, went to cultivate the farmlands in Garangu, Tarni, Tabit, Gallab and Kolgi, on Saturday and Sunday. Several returnees reported to Radio Dabanga that armed herders have occupied their lands and told them to leave.

“They threatened us under the pretext that the land now belongs to them and whoever wants to cultivate a land, must reach an agreement with them,” a farmer said. “Or otherwise we should return to where we came from.”

Locality commissioner Adam Yagoub Jadeed told Radio Dabanga in an earlier press statement that “the area has been in conflict over the use of land, housing and grazing since last year.

“The Shatiya Arabs left the area to South Darfur about 70 years ago, but returned to the area last year.” Jadeed said that the case was filed to State Governor Abdelwahid Yousif, who then decided to hold a meeting about the composition of the area, in an attempt to resolve the problem in the near future.

The Sudanese government has issued several announcements about the improved security situation in the region, which shows signs of a campaign to increase the numbers of voluntary returnees from the camps to their areas of origin. Reports of militiamen with their families occupying the abandoned villages and farms continue to emerge, while the majority of displaced long to return.

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