Gunmen shot and killed two people in East Darfur on Sunday who had returned from the camp for displaced people to their home village. Humanitarian aid activities in South Darfur reported that local peace committees discuss tensions between returnees and new settlers in their areas of origin.
On Sunday, unidentified gunmen shot two people dead at Arid village in East Darfur. A source confirmed to Radio Dabanga that the victims had been displaced by conflict a long time ago and resided at En Neem camp in Ed Daein locality. They had returned to their village as part of the voluntary repatriation process for displaced people in Darfur.
The source said that the motive for the shooting was to try to expel the returnees from their original villages and farms, in order to exploit their farms that have now been seized by armed groups.
Starting 2017, the Sudanese government began to issue announcements about the improved security situation in the region and gave people in camps for displaced people the option to voluntarily return to their areas of origin, or remain in the camps which will be transformed into residential areas.
Radio Dabanga frequently receives reports of attacks on displaced people who have returned to their villages and farms, carried out by militiamen or unidentified armed men. The insecurity discourages many displaced people from leaving the vast camps, despite of the large-scale voluntary return programmes set-up by the Sudanese Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), the UNHCR in Chad and the Commissioner of Refugees (COR).
“New settlers in their land of origin refused them access to their land.” – Amnesty International
In June 2018, Amnesty International stated that the provision of safety to displaced people returning to their areas of origin in Darfur after years of living in the camps, has been a failure.
“Many displaced people and refugees faced pushback and violence as they attempted to settle back in their lands of origin. For example, in North Darfur, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the voluntary repatriation of Sudanese refugees from Chad started in March, and 20,000 refugees are anticipated to return to their places of origin in Darfur in 2018… However, [Radio Dabanga reported that] approximately 250 displaced families were forced to settle in an IDP camp in Kabkabiya in North Darfur, as new settlers in their land of origin refused them access to their land.”
OCHA: “Minor tensions” South Darfur
In its latest humanitarian news bulletin covering Sudan, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that a Recovery, Returns, and Reintegration (RRR) sector carried out voluntary verification missions to five return villages in South Darfur's Katila locality (Batikha, Haraza, Eraida El Dwenki, Aradiba Bawat, and Gibaiabish), and one return village in Ed El Fursan locality (Muaqina) to verify voluntariness of returns, number of returnees and to assess their needs.
About 22,200 people returned to their home villages in Katila and Ed El Fursan localities, according to the mission. The majority returned to the five villages in Katila.
In addition the office stated that, “[In South Darfur Katila locality] There were no major protection concerns or security incidents reported since they returned to their villages, except for minor tensions between animal herders and farmers during the rainy season (June-September). These tensions were resolved by peace committees in the villages, rendering good relationships between neighbours, said the community leaders.
“According to reports, all the returnees were able to access their farms without any problems.”
Several months before, in April 2018, Radio Dabanga reported that unidentified gunmen killed four returnees within the Voluntary Return Programme and wounded six others in an attack by unknown gunmen on the village of Jamra in South Darfur’s Katila.
In spite of “no major protection concerns or security incidents”, OCHA quotes the mission team's recommendations for “longer-term durable assistance such as enhancing protection by boosting police presence in the return villages and for government authorities to prioritise the collection of arms”.
In addition, the returnees told the verification mission they are concerned about the lack of basic services such as water, health, and education.
Read the entire OCHA Humanitarian Bulletin Sudan, 28 January – 24 February here