News / Africa

Resettling Darfur's Displaced Raises Questions

The blue helmets of UN peacekeepers distinguish them from the many armed groups in Darfur.
The blue helmets of UN peacekeepers distinguish them from the many armed groups in Darfur.

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Elizabeth Arrott

As Sudan's government and Darfur rebels move closer to a final peace, efforts are under way to build housing for some of the estimated 2.7 million people uprooted by the war.  There are concerns the new settlements could make internally displaced people permanently displaced.

There does not seem much to celebrate in this dusty, sun-scorched patch of Sudan, just east of the border with Chad.

But after seven years of devastating conflict, the new village of Habali Canari, and dozens more like it, are giving some people hope.  With the help of the Arab League there is now a mosque, a water station and other signs of basic modern life.

The emphasis is on basic.  There are no roads to the settlement - just tracks through the soft sands of the no-man's land of the desert.

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa came to Habila Canari to officially open the project.  He says he hopes the village will help lure people out of the refugee camps where Darfurians sought protection.

"They want to be sure that their children will have a school, they will have some medical care, they will have some commodities, some goods available," he said.  "So that is what we are counting on."

The area saw some of the worst fighting of the conflict, which claimed the lives of an estimated 300,000 people and displaced many times more.  

Sudan's government is eager to say the war is over.  In a show of reconciliation, members of the government-backed Janjaweed militia are brought together with farmers at Habila Canari's opening.  The uneasiness is palpable, with farmwomen, targeted by militias for rape and killing, performing for the Arab League delegation, not far from their former tormentors.

The conflict at the southern reaches of the Arab world has many sources.  Some emphasize a conflict between Arabs and Black Africans.  

There are also political machinations and rivalries, and an environmental angle as well.  As desertification pushes nomadic tribes further south, Janjaweed fighters drove farmers from their lands.

Which raises the question of who is it that will live in Habila Canari, and whether the "voluntary return" is a return or a resettlement.

Sudan's Ambassador to the Arab League, Abdel-Rahman Serr al Khetm, says the villages are meant to attract and keep people in "their new places."

"Actually, these places were their original areas," he said.  "They would have been there before the war, or before they were forced to go to the camps."

But the answers of villagers raise doubts about who is here.

One woman told VOA that she is vague about her ties to the area.  At first, she said that she has been here for four years, then she said seven years.  Finally she said that she had always been here, but is from another village.

Several others speaking under the watchful eye of government troops gave similarly circumspect answers.  

For a society without much infrastructure, let alone bureaucratic records even before the war, the questions may never be clearly answered.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid