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Darfur voluntary return commissioner: Displaced have three options

April 30 - 2018 ZALINGEI
Darfuri refugee children who returned from Chad to El Tina in North Darfur, April 2018 (UNHCR)
Darfuri refugee children who returned from Chad to El Tina in North Darfur, April 2018 (UNHCR)

According to the voluntary return commissioner for the five Darfur states, the Darfur displaced and refugees can choose from three options: Return to their villages of origin, resettlement, or integration into the host community.

After visiting Fatima Kerel return village in Zalingei locality in Central Darfur, Commissioner Tajeldin Ibrahim reiterated the Sudanese government’s commitment to the three options for the about 2.7 million Darfuris currently living in camps in the region, and Darfuri refugees who are still living in eastern Chad camps.

He denied the existence of other possibilities to the press in Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur: “Any talk other than these three options is considered a political consumption unrelated to the state's plan to address the issues of the displaced and refugees.”

The people who returned to Fatima Kerel village demanded food aid and more shelter materials, in addition to the establishment of police posts in the area.

Voluntary return

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.

In February, Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir instructed the acceleration of the voluntary repatriation of Sudanese refugees in Chad and the return of Chadian refugees in Sudan.

The Voluntary Repatriation and Reconstruction Commission in Darfur announced earlier this month that it will conduct a comprehensive survey among those people who have already voluntary returned to their places of origin, to identify their basic needs.

The South Darfur governor however, announced last week that the Kalma camp, with more than 100,000 displaced one of the largest camps for the displaced in the region, would be dismantled “within one or two weeks”. The camp residents would be evacuated as part of the government’s plans to eliminate all Darfur camps this year.

By the end of 2018, there will be "no camps, food aid, or relief organisations" in Darfur any more, he said.

The camp residents, rebel movements, but also prominent Sudanese have strongly condemned the governor’s stance.


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.




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