North Darfur's Abu Shouk and El Salam camps to be 'restructured'
The North Darfur authorities have given the omdas of the Abu Shouk and El Salam camps for the displaced a period of 60 days to confirm the camp population’s acceptance of a new housing plan. This “resettlement project” means that the two camps, located near North Darfur’s capital of El Fasher, will be entirely restructured, to become residential districts of the city.
Omda Ahmed Ateem Osman, the coordinator of the North Darfur camps for the displaced, explained to Radio Dabanga that the population of both camps have strongly rejected the project. “They consider it a ruse, aimed at the elimination of the displacement issue in the state”.
Osman explained that on Saturday a North Darfur state representative met with the omdas of both camps, informing them of the decision and the deadline. The omdas were told to collect statements of approval from the families under their administration.
The North Darfur government is also exploiting “fake omdas who have nothing to do with the camps, so that they can implement the new housing plan within the deadline of 60 days,” the coordinator said. “Camp omdas refusing to cooperate are threatened, and accused of insurgency.”
Violation of the law
The coordinator described the government’s actions against the displaced in the two camps as “a clear violation of the international law under which the camps have been established”. Considering the UN-AU mission in Darfur (Unamid) responsible for the protection of the displaced, he demanded from Unamid to stop the authorities from interfering in the camps’ affairs. “Unamid should not deal with those people, because they do not represent the displaced.”
He also demanded that the UN Security Council request Unamid to report these developments to the Security Council “in order to stop the Sudanese government from intervening in the affairs of the displaced,” he said, “as thedisplaced fall under the responsibility of the UN, not the Sudanese government.”
According to Osman, the International Organization for Migration is “the only party responsible for our return”. “Both camps are to be kept as they are, until a comprehensive and radical solution is found for the crisis in Darfur. We will definitely return when our security problems are solved, we are fully compensated, justice is realised, and a sustainable, comprehensive peace has been achieved.”
On Monday, during the launch of a new water station meant to serve the Abu Shouk and El Salam population, North Darfur state Governor Osman Kibir announced that a special workshop for the resettlement project will be convened, to discuss the ways of implementation of the resettlement project. Kibir said that the workshop will be attended by Unamid, the Darfur Regional Authority, voluntary organisations, and the displaced.
The Governor promised the displaced of the camps that the state government will provide them with anything they need. “Each displaced family will be granted a plot of land for permanent use. In this way both the camps will become part of El Fasher residential districts.”
The Governor also stated that there will be no coercion. “The new housing plan comes in response to the desire of the displaced and does not eliminate the voluntariness of return. The two lines go together.” He pointed to a number of “model villages, already built by befriended countries, for those wanting to return. The resettlement process will be implemented by most competent authorities, who will arrange what has been agreed concerning the displaced.”
File photo: (Albert González Farran/Unamid)
Related: North Darfur camps get new water station (28 January 2014)
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