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Growing numbers of IDPs return to Jebel Marra: official

Newly displaced persons in Sortoni, North Darfur, who sought refuge near UNAMID's Site following clashes between SLM-AW and government forces in Jebel Marra area on 10 February 2016. (Photo UNAMID=
December 29, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The government of Central Darfur State on Friday said increasing numbers of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have returned to their home areas especially in Jebel Marra following the successful implementation of the disarmament campaign.

The semi-official Sudan Media Center (SMC) quoted the humanitarian aid commissioner in the Central Darfur State Ismail Adam as saying the collection of illicit weapons has accelerated the return of the IDPs and stability in the villages.

He pointed out that they would hand over a list containing some requirements to the higher committee tasked with supporting the reconstruction of Jebel Marra area.

Adam added these requirements were identified after conducting comprehensives surveys in north, central and west Jebel Marra counties, saying there is enough police and military presence in those counties.

Launched last August, the six-month disarmament campaign aims to eliminate weapons in the conflict-affected areas in Sudan, particularly in Darfur region.

The Sudanese authorities say the spread of weapons among the rival tribes in the region is one of the main causes of Darfur’s instability.

The governor of Central Darfur Ga’afar Abdel-Hakam in October said they collected more than 3000 illegal weapons from two localities expecting disarmament campaign will contribute to improving the security, social and economic conditions in the state.

Last week, Abdel-Hakam said the weapons collection campaign will reach within days Jebel Marra’s areas controlled by the Sudan Liberation Movement of Abdel Wahid al-Nur (SLM-AW).

In 2016, the government said that its forces defeated the SLM-AW fighters but admitted the existence of some rebel pockets in the mountainous Jebel Marra area and stopped its military operations particularly the air attacks which affect civilians also.

Since the signing of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur in July 2011, the government constructed several villages and vowed to support IDPs who return to their home areas.

However, the displaced complain that the security situation remains the same pointing to the government militia saying they continue to attack them and grab their land.

UN agencies estimate that over 300,000 people were killed in Darfur conflict since 2003, and over 2.5 million are displaced.