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Darfur returnees forced to remain in insecure area

January 1 - 2018 EL MALAM
South Darfuris flee herders attack on their village, 23 July 2017 (RD)
South Darfuris flee herders attack on their village, 23 July 2017 (RD)

On Thursday, members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Sudan’s main government militia, prevented dozens of formerly displaced South Darfur villagers to flee again.

Two weeks ago, about 300 people returned from the Shangil Tobaya camps for the displaced in Tawila locality to their home villages in the area of El Malam in northern South Darfur.

When they discovered that militiamen and other gunmen are still roaming in the area, dozens of them decided to return to the relative safety of the camps. RSF troops, however, prevented them from leaving, and detained four village sheikhs who protested their action.

“Ismail Azhari, Yagoub Younis, Adam Hamid, and Adam Suleiman are now being held at the prison of El Malam,” a returnee told Radio Dabanga from the town. “The South Darfur governor will decided on their fate, as well as the fate of 71 villagers who were prevented from leaving.”

The source said that the area of El Malam is “devoid of any security”.

Safe and secure’

In July 2011, the Sudanese government signed the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur with the Liberation and Justice Movement -formed a year earlier by 19 breakaway factions of the main Darfur rebel movements.

The peace talks were brokered by the Government of Qatar. In April 2013, Qatar hosted an international donor conference for the reconstruction of Sudan’s conflict-torn western region. The Gulf state itself pledged to support the peace process with development projects, including the construction of model villages intended to house displaced Darfuris returning to their home areas.

In February 2016, the UN and the government of Sudan signed documents worth $88.5 million in contributions from Qatar for projects in all Darfur states over a period of nearly two years. The majority would be spent on model villages. In August 2017, Doha granted another $70 million for the construction of model villages in Darfur.

Most of the Darfur displaced categorically reject returning home or relocation to model villages as they consider the situation far from secure enough to leave the camps.

In August last year, Khartoum started a massive disarmament campaign in the five Darfur states in an attempt to stabilise the region. The RSF and the army are tasked with the collection of illegal weapons and vehicles.

The results are not meeting the expectations, the North Darfur governor acknowledged last week.

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