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Large numbers of Darfuris return from Chad

February 19 - 2016 EL FASHER / UM DUKHUN
Sudanese refugees in Chad (UNHCR)
Sudanese refugees in Chad (UNHCR)

Tens of thousands people who had fled the war and tribal conflict in Darfur to neighbouring Chad have returned in North Darfur State.

Independent Member of Parliament of Karnoi, Um Baru and El Tina localities, Mohamed Ahmed Minawi Digeish, reported the arrival of more than 27,000 displaced people to Um Baru since Tuesday. “23,000 refugees have returned from Chad to Karnoi locality and about 13,000 have returned to El Tina locality in North Darfur during the past days.”

“The security situation in the localities is quite calm, there is nothing to disturb it currently,” Digeish explained. He added that the deteriorating food security and services in the eastern Chad refugee camps have caused the mass return.

He said that a local organisation has conducted a survey and assessed the basic needs of the Darfuri refugees from neighbouring Chad. A convoy carrying the much-needed goods for these returnees has arrived from El Fasher.

IOM source: Tens of thousands of Darfuris have returned from Chad

An official source from the International Organization of Migration (IOM) confirmed to Radio Dabanga on Thursday that tens of thousands of Darfuris have returned to the three localities. He reported that their numbers have reached 37,000 in Karnoi, and more than 4,000 people have arrived in El Tina.

He estimated that 22,000 refugees arrived in Um Dukhun locality in Central Darfur State. These returning refugees fled their home villages in Um Dukhun in 2013 following clashes between the Misseriya and Salamat tribes.

The official also confirmed that teams of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) visited the three sites in North Darfur to identify the problems facing the returning refugees.

According to the UNHCR, the number of reported refugee returns to Darfur in 2015 was 64,000 people (mainly from Chad), meaning that more Darfuris have been returning in a shorter period of time this year. IOM is yet to confirm last year's return cases.

Home villages

On Monday, the Governor of North Darfur State, Abdelwahid Yousif announced the return of 61,000 Darfuri refugees from Chad and the Central African Republic, after being forced to flee the war and conflicts in the region.

Yousif held a meeting with the State Minister of Interior, Babikir Ahmed Digna, and a representative of the Office of the UNHCR in Khartoum, Mohamed Tad, to discuss the office's activities in the region.

The refugees desire to return to their home villages, the Governor said, and he requested the UNHCR to “provide visible services such as water and shelter, rather than simple aid”. Yousif said that there are preparations in place to receive the returnees from Chad.

By the end of last year, there were close to 300,000 Sudanese refugees (mainly from Darfur) in Chad and another 2,000 Sudanese refugees in Central African Republic (CAR).

Um Dukhun

In a related event, the United Nations humanitarian office (OCHA) reported in its latest news bulletin that international NGO Triangle Génération Humanitaire provided emergency shelter and household supplies for about 5,500 returned refugees in Muradaf, Central Darfur State. An estimated 22,600 Sudanese citizens returned from camps in Chad to Muradaf in 2015, after fleeing tribal clashes between the Salamat and Misseriya in Um Dukhun.

The refugees opted to return to Sudan but not to their areas of origin in villages to the south of Um Dukhun town, which they still see as unsafe to return to because of the continued presence of Misseriya tribesmen in these areas.

Following the Chadian government’s decision to close the Abu Gadam refugee camp where most Darufris had been taking refuge, the about 22,600 refugees returned to Muradaf village in 2015. These returnees are mainly from the Salamat tribe.

In Muradaf, there are still an additional estimated 6,500 people who need emergency shelter and essential household supplies, after IOM completes the registration of these returnees, OCHA reported.

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