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Voluntary return commission to question Darfur returnees

April 3 - 2018 DARFUR
A return village in Um Baru locality, North Darfur (2016, UNDP)
A return village in Um Baru locality, North Darfur (2016, UNDP)

The Voluntary Repatriation and Reconstruction Commission in Darfur will conduct a comprehensive survey into the voluntary return in all five states, to identify the basic needs of the returnees.

The commission, led by Tajeldin Ibrahim, will conduct the survey among formerly displaced people who have returned to their villages in Darfur from 5 to 20 April.

Ibrahim said in a press statement that the commission coordinates with a number of other Sudanese actors and “aim to identify the urgent basic needs that enable the returnees to settle in those villages”.

In addition he announced the transfer of Sudanese refugees from refugee camps in neighbouring Chad to North and West Darfur states earlier this month.

Mid-March, about 400 displaced of Neem camp for displaced people in Ed Daein attempted to return to their village at Areit area, but were attacked and beaten by unidentified gunmen who injured two of them. The affected people then set a package of conditions for voluntary return including providing security and services.

They also demanded that their farms and residential lands be returned to them in full.

Returning home

The return of displaced people and refugees to their areas of origin in Darfur remains a challenge for both the Sudanese government as the displaced themselves. Insecurity caused by roaming militias and the abundance of weapons, as well as the danger of running into armed new settlers in the home areas has kept at bay many of the displaced people living in camps.

Voluntary return is one of the options which the Sudanese government gives to the about 2.7 million people in Darfur who have been displaced by the armed conflict that erupted in 2003. Khartoum has been seeking to empty or abolish camps and it also makes plans for the transformation of the camps into residential areas, or to make camps integrate into existing cities and towns.

The South Darfur state government, among others, has started planning the transformation of El Sareif camp for displaced people, south of Nyala. The camp would be turned into a permanent town for the displaced to settle permanently.

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