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Sudan president to UK parliamentarians: “Insecurity in Darfur is normal”

September 21 - 2018 KHARTOUM
Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir in a meeting in his palace (Suna)
Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir in a meeting in his palace (Suna)

A delegation of UK parliamentarians met with President Omar Al Bashir at the conclusion of their visit, who told them that the issue in Darfur is not the security, rather the concerns of the resettlement of displaced people and refugees.

Following a visit in Darfur yesterday, the parliamentarians said instability and insecurity have remained in Darfur despite the decrease of the conflict. Earlier the delegation released a statement saying that any further reductions to the African Union and United Nations’ Mission in Darfur (Unamid) “should reflect real improvements on the ground”, as well as assurances that the UN Country Team would have the resources and support to fill the gaps.

On 13 July, the UN Security Council decided to cut the troop strength of the hybrid mission from 8,735 to 4,050 personnel and to maintain its police strength at the current level of 2,500 personnel.

President Omar Al Bashir met with the delegation on Wednesday and said that the problem of Darfur is not currently a security issue, rather, the concerns are the resettlement of displaced people and refugees. The government faces the questions how to provide them with services and developmental projects and how to dismantle the camps while returning their inhabitants to their villages or resettling them in the cities.

According to Al Bashir, the situation in the states of Darfur is stable. “The incidents that occur from time to time is something normal in all countries, especially in the countries emerging from conflicts.”

The UK delegation, a cross-party group of UK parliamentarians raising issues of peace, social justice, and human rights in both countries, was led by David Drew, Labour MP for Stroud, Vice-Chair, APPG Sudan and South Sudan. The delegation of the House of Lords has now concluded its visit to Sudan, during which it visited North Darfur where it met with officials of the state government, Unamid leadership and witnessed the situation in Abu Shouk and Zamzam camps for the displaced.

Set of conditions’

The spokesman for the Association of Displaced People and Refugees in Darfur, Hussein Abusharati, responded to Al Bashir’s statements: “What is happening in Darfur is not ordinary insecurity, but rather a complete lack of security.

“Any talk about voluntary return under the manipulation of government militias over the entire region is a matter of falsehood,” he told Radio Dabanga. Abusharati said that this is proved by killings, robberies and raids in villages of those people who have voluntarily returned to their areas of origin for farming.

The spokesman said that there is a set of conditions for voluntary return: “These include peace, disarming of the militias, their expulsion from the villages they have occupied, and prosecution of the perpetrators of crimes in Darfur.”

UK delegation leader David Drew earlier said that, yet it is “true to say there is less fighting in Darfur today, but too many internally displaced people feel unable or unwilling to return home due to security concerns. […] Withdrawing too quickly without a clear plan puts the progress made in Darfur at risk.”

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