The governor of North Darfur announced that 152,797 displaced people have returned to their villages of origin. Camps where displaced people have been living, will be renamed to districts and towns.
Governor El Sharif Samouh told state parliament that the total number of displaced people in North Darfur camps nows totals 327,031. He did not mention in which time period the reported 152,797 people have left the camps.
Samouh pointed to the return of large numbers of refugees from Chad to their villages in the localities El Tina, Um Baru and Karnoi. “They have managed to catch up with the agricultural season and are harvesting their agricultural products,” he said.
The voluntary repatriation, resettlement and integration of displaced people into their villages and settlements due to conflict and war in the past have been one of the biggest challenges the government has sought to address. It is undertaking a study and inventory of displaced people who wish to be integrated into existing towns, and identify pieces of lands so as to accommodate them.
Samouh said that the total need for residential pieces of land has been determined at 45,000 housing units in the camps of Abu Shouk, Zamzam and El Salam in El Fasher locality.
He explained that in order to remove the effects of war, the government has changed the names of the displacement camps in El Fasher to be included in the districts of the city, where Abu Shouk camp has been changed to El Waha district, El Salam camp to El Shaati district and Zamzam camp to Zamzam town.
North Darfur state will dig ten wells and establish ten dams and ten water reservoirs, in addition to providing education, health and security services in these districts and areas of voluntary return, according to the governor.
Early November the state government and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) launched the dismantling of the three camps. Camp residents would be granted “a 300 square metre piece of land with an ownership certificate” here, or voluntarily return to their home areas. Previously the heads of the three camps have submitted a package of demands for the implementation of the new housing schemes.
In October, North Darfur state announced that this first phase includes the resettlement of 45,000 families – meaning at least 135,000 people.
Displacement and returns
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.
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.