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‘Farmland confiscated and sold by authorities’: Darfur displaced

March 5 - 2019 KABKABIYA
Centre of kabkabiya, May 2016 (RD)
Centre of kabkabiya, May 2016 (RD)

Displaced people in Kabkabiya locality said that the Sudanese authorities have converted large tracts of agricultural lands for housing plans and handed them over to foreigners.

A total of 15,000 acres of agricultural land in the North Darfur locality were confiscated by the authorities. They have been turned into residential plots, and according to people who have been displaced by conflict in the area, are now owned by men from Niger and Mali.

The lands are in El Siniya, Mwekila, Kabkabiya North, Jebel Tutka (west of Kabkabiya), and Bentiu, southwest of Kabkabiya.

Disgruntled by the decision, the displaced people issued a statement yesterday claiming that members of the Sudanese security apparatus have summoned all the displaced landowners who protested against the decision.

“They have threatened to arrest, eliminate or hand them over to the Rapid Support Forces.” The displaced people in the statement appealed to human rights and humanitarian organisations to intervene to redress and return “the looted land”.

Kabkabiya locality (OCHA)


Voluntary returns

Starting 2017, the Sudanese government began to issue announcements about the improved security situation in the region, which showed the first signs of the campaign to increase the numbers of voluntary returnees from the camps to their areas of origin.

Reports, however, of militiamen with their families occupying the abandoned villages and farms started to emerge too. This was already the case in 2015 when witnesses narrated their visits to specific areas which were occupied by newcomers or foreign settlers, and continues to be a problem for returnees.

Voluntary return is one of the options which the Sudanese government has given to the people in Darfur who have been displaced by the armed conflict that erupted in 2003. Another option for them is to remain in the camps which will be transformed into residential areas.

Recently, Darfur state governors made a promise to return any land of people who have been displaced by war and now willing to return, to their rightful owners by force, at the Darfur States Conference of Displaced People in Nyala in December 2018.

In November, the North Darfur governor claimed that nearly 153,000 displaced people had returned to their villages of origin. Camps where displaced people have been living, will be renamed to districts and towns.

The conflict in Darfur erupted in 2003 and has displaced over 2.7 million people from their homes (OCHA, 2017) -however, up-to-date numbers are difficult to ascertain by humanitarian organisations in Darfur.

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