The First Vice-President of Sudan and the Deputy Prime-Minister of Qatar officially opened a service complex in the Tabit Unit area in Tawila locality, North Darfur, today.
The complex is part of the Voluntary Return Programme, sponsored by Qatar since the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur was signed in 2011 by the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement.
According to Emad Al Obeidi, representative of the Qatari Al Thani Bin Abdullah Foundation the construction of the service complex took three years, at a cost of $6 million. The model complex includes a police station, a rural hospital, a mosque, four schools, and a water station, and offers a model housing project and an economic project for poor families.
The Tabit Unit area consists of 28 villages that host more than 20,000 inhabitants.
In his opening speech, Qatari Deputy Prime-Minister Ahmed bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud stated that his country planned to fund the construction of water wells in 11 Darfur localities, as well as 10 model villages at a total cost of $70 million.
Al Mahmoud added that Qatar reserved $50 million for the development of health and educational services for nomads in Darfur. He also pledged to upgrade the Tabit health centre into a hospital next year.
For his part, First Vice-President Bakri Hassan Saleh called on the people in Darfur to participate in the referendum next year in which they can chose to return to the system of one administrative region or continue the current five Darfur states.
He further pledged to facilitate the completion of basic services in Tawila locality.
The Darfur Reconstruction Fund, headed by Qatar, has already realised 315 projects in Darfur, out of 1,071 planned projects which include schools, health centres, and police stations.
Displaced people living in Tabit told Radio Dabanga that they did not leave their house to cheer for the new services complex. They said that they were not concerned, in particular after the security forces warned the population of Tabit not to raise any complaint to the first vice-president or the Qatari functionaries.
“The first vice-president belongs to the government officials who protect the perpetrators of many atrocities in the region, including the mass rape of last year and the widespread militia attacks on villages in the area last week,”one of them commented.
He said that the displaced people who attended the opening ceremony had been brought in, “in more than 150 vehicles”, from El Fasher, Shangil Tobaya, Dar Es Salaam, Kalimendo, and Tawila.
“The ceremony took place under tight security, involving government forces in more than 150 vehicles loaded with various weapons,” he further reported. “The vice-president and his entourage arrived in Tabit at 10.30 am by four helicopters, of which three belong to Unamid. They left again at 1 pm.”
On Sunday and Monday, thousands of newly displaced people who sought refuge near Tabit after their villages were pillaged and torched in repeated militia attacks last week, were deported to areas at a distance of at least one kilometre from the model service complex.
Throughout Monday, the authorities warned the population of Tabit by loudspeakers that grievances and complaints should be filed at the office of the Military Intelligence and not handed to the visiting officials.
The source referred to the 36-hour mass rape that took place end October, early November last year.
After a Sudanese soldier went missing in the village in the evening of 30 October, military forces of the nearby garrison entered Tabit the following day. While a number of soldiers seized and kept the men, others raped more than 200 girls and women.
Radio Dabanga received the first reports on the incidents on 2 November. Initially the local military commander apologised for the rape. Later, authorities in the area threatened civilians not speak out about the alleged crime. The Sudanese government responded with fierce denials. Visitors as well as a Unamid verification team were barred from accessing the area for a week.