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North Darfur approves plan to resettle 45,000 displaced families

October 16 - 2018 EL FASHER
Tents and huts where displaced people live in in Zamzam camp, North Darfur, 2015 - one of the largest camps in Darfur (Albert Gonzalez Farran/Unamid)
Tents and huts where displaced people live in in Zamzam camp, North Darfur, 2015 - one of the largest camps in Darfur (Albert Gonzalez Farran/Unamid)

North Darfur State has approved a plan to turn the camps for displaced people into permanent residential areas on Monday. The first phase includes the resettlement of 45,000 families – meaning at least 135,000 people.

State spokesman El Hadi Burma Saleh said that the plan includes establishing a technical committee of the Ministry of Urban Planning. This will carry out field surveys and map new housing extensions.

The draft plan is aimed at resettling 45,000 families from Abu Shouk, El Salam and Zamzam camps in the first phase. Each of them are camps with populations of tens of thousands of people. Considering a family holds three members at a minimum, this means the state will move at least 135,000 people.

The new houses should be equipped with basic services to accommodate all the displaced of the camps who wish to integrate into these communities. “Each family wishing to settle would be given a free piece of land with complete procedures,” Burma Saleh said in the press statement.

Last June, Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) stated that the government has no plan to forcibly evict people from the camps. It did announce that the displaced people have a number of options, including resettlement in the area where they are, or in another area such as their areas of origin.

Relocation and return

In accordance with the signing of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur in July 2011, the government constructed several ‘model villages’ for displaced people to move to, and vowed to support displaced people who decide to return to their home areas. The voluntary return of displaced people and refugees, however, remains the main challenge for the Sudanese government seen the large numbers of people still living in the relative safety of the camps.

2.7 million people remained displaced in Darfur at the end of 2016

Despite reports about less insecurity in the Darfur region and decrease of the number of clashes between the government forces and armed movements, the camps that were created for displaced people after the eruption of fighting in 2003 have remained. According to the latest global numbers, the conflict and ensuing insecurity had still displaced over 2.7 million people in Darfur in December 2016 (UN OCHA).

Up-to-date numbers are difficult to ascertain by humanitarian organisations in Darfur. According to the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Sudan, Gwi-Yeop Son, the year 2018 has seen a decrease in the number of newly displaced people: “… only about 25,000 people displaced, meaning that the number of displaced has decreased by 92 per cent.” The coordinator added that the number of returnees to their villages has increased reaching more than 300.000 this year.

The armed conflict between the Sudanese government and rebel forces in Sudan's western region erupted in 2003. The United Nations has estimated that in the first five years alone, 300,000 people were killed by air raids, shelling, attacks on villages and more.

People fled to camps and sought refuge abroad, and to date more than 300,000 Sudanese refugees reside in camps in Chad. In April this year, the first large-scale voluntary returns from Chad took place when the UNHCR and the Commissioner of Refugees (COR) assisted dozens of Sudanese refugees from Chad in their return to Kabkabiya, Saraf Omra and Karnoi. The operation is planned to continue in December.


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