Blog #2 – Darfur Case posted Feb 18

Blog Post #2: Posted February 18, 2015
Topic: Improved Security in Sudan’s Darfur Lures IDPs to Return

El FASHER, Sudan, Feb. 13.
After 12 years of armed conflict, the security situation in Sudan’s Darfur region is witnessing a relative improvement, encouraging thousands of internally displaced people (IDP) to consider returning to their home areas.
At Abu Shouk, the biggest camp for IDP in Darfur, 4 kms north of El Fashir, capital city of North Darfur State, life is going on normally.
“This camp accommodates 47,500 displaced persons compared to about 127,000 three years ago. There has been a decline in the number of the displaced persons in the camp due to the voluntary return program,” according to the camp director.
The camp director says that the situation has become stable after the signing of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) in July 2011.
He hailed the life and security inside the camp. “This camp has become part of El Fasher city and life here is better where health, water and education services are provided. Presently there are additional services.”
“In terms of security, I must note that since Abu Shouk camp was established in April 20, 2004, only 12 cases of murder have been registered. Presently we do not have registered murder cases, save for normal theft and quarreling crimes,” Sheikh-Eddin added.
Since the Sudanese government and the Darfur Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) signed the DDPD in 2011, the military confrontations in Darfur have reduced which caused thousands of displaced persons to voluntarily return to their home areas.
However, some intermittent events, Sheikh-Eddin said, hinder the voluntary return program, adopted by the government, to achieve its entire goals.
He pointed out that some of the sporadic events which take place at various areas in Darfur compel the displaced people to return to the camps.
Sheikh-Eddin urged the government to work to provide the suitable circumstances for the voluntary return, including the establishment of model villages, enforcement of the sovereignty of the State and the rule of law, collecting the wide-spread arms in the region and compensating those affected by the conflict.
In the meantime, a number of displaced persons inside Abu Shouk camp expressed their true willingness to leave the camp on the condition that security and services are restored in their home regions.
“Definitely we want to voluntarily return to our home areas as it is illogical to live in the camp forever. We want to return to our villages and exercise our normal works of cultivation and grazing,” said, an administration official in Abu Shouk camp.
Ishaq Mohamed, also a camp officer, told Xinhua that “the security situation has greatly improved, which pushed thousands of the displaced people to interact with the voluntary return program.”
Fatima Abdul-Salam, a displaced woman in Abu Shouk camp, said voluntary return is better than staying at the camps.
“We want to return to our homes and exercise our normal works. We do not want to depend on what is provided by the organizations of food that do not meet our needs,” she said.
There are five IDP camps in North Darfur State, including Abu Shouk, the biggest, where around 47,000 people live, along with Al-Salam camp with 45,000, Zamzam with 42,000, Kassab with 26,000 and Fata Barno with 24,000.
According to the United Nations, around 1.4 million people are living in IDP camps in Darfur and others abroad, noting that the figure rises and falls based on the indicators of violence in the region which has been witnessing a civil war since 2003.
The Sudanese government and LJM on July 4, 2011 signed the DDPD which addresses issues relating to power and wealth sharing, human rights, return of refugees and IDPs, compensation, permanent cease-fire and security arrangements.
However, some major Darfur armed movements, including the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement, have rejected to sign the agreement.
Your Task:
Review the post, write your response, interact with classmates on their perspectives. Incorporate (within the post) additional research to provide a better understanding of Darfur situation.
Discuss the post in general and specifically answer the following questions:
In this post, which elements of security do you detect, that are motivating people to return?
In the context of this post, what is the meaning of return, for those displaced?

Your responses can be posted starting anytime through Tuesday, February 24, midnight.

Source: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/africa/2015-02/13/c_127494554.htm
Retrieved February 18, 2015

32 comments

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  1. William Johnson

    Willingness to return is a function of the perceived level of violence in the region. According to information contained in this post, it appears that people are more inclined to return when they perceive the conflict is on a trajectory toward peace. People feel progress is being made due to a reduction in violence. As the article states, after the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) was signed, decreased military confrontations in the region have provided a returned since of stability to people displaced by the fighting. People feel confident because the government is engaged in dialogue concerning security improvements, ways to uphold the rule of law, and the collection of weapons, which provides a strong enough feeling of security for people to consider returning.

    As discussed in the DDPD, Article 43, item #225, victims of the conflict have the right to financial compensation for the losses they suffered during the conflict. This also gives confidence to IDPs (and refugees) considering a return; however this agreement doesn’t specify the rate or amount of compensation each victim will receive. Regardless, the commitment of the government to begin the discussion over compensation is a move in the right direction.

    For many displaced people, return means living without fear in a sovereign state where the state upholds and enforces law and security, violence is prevented by actively reducing the number of publicly-held firearms in the region, and services previously enjoyed are restored. According to many, return is seen as being able to sustain livelihoods by cultivating and producing horticultural and agricultural products. Others see their return as freedom from depending on food from organizations that support the IDP camps, and being able to return to the life that they enjoyed before the conflict forced them to flee.

    Although people displaced by the conflict are increasingly moving back to the areas they previously inhabited, restoration of land rights is a key challenge. Many Arab and African groups have populated many of the villages where displaced groups previously lived. This creates a unique challenge when trying to reallocate land or property to displaced people, because the land and property they previously owned is now under control by new parties. This means that victims of the conflict will either be forced to live in a place different than where they had lived prior to fleeing, or a “double move” will need to occur – new inhabitants will need to be moved so that IDPs returning home can resettle in their original villages.

    http://www.darfurconference.com/sites/default/files/files/DDPD%20English.pdf

    http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2013/05/30/000356161_20130530124130/Rendered/PDF/776440JRN020100LIC00After0Janjaweed.pdf

    1. sara babb

      The willingness of the Sudanese government to engage in dialogue regarding compensation can be seen as a positive step, yet the likelihood of their fulfilling their commitments seems negligible. Is it worse to agree to terms with no intention of fulfilling them than to have never made the pledge at all? My hesitance mainly stems from the Sudanese government’s complicity in arming the groups targeting the local inhabitants in Darfur for ethnic cleansing and their failure to admit guilt. The loose language regarding compensation also leave me skeptical.

      1. richard1

        I couldn’t agree with you more on your skepticism Sara. We have seen lots of deals, accords,agreements, etc such as this go sour, especially in this case where a major player like the Justice and Equality movement is not a signatory to the agreement. I feel the plight of IDPs; those in camps and those who return voluntarily will only be caught in harm’s way when rebels pick up arms against the government to fight against its double standard attitude. To me it further seems hypocritical for them (the Omar Al Bashir government) to sign this deal but have not signed the Kampala Accord which bounds them on a regional level to ensure the safety of IDPs and Refugees.

        http://www.internal-displacement.org/assets/library/Africa/Kampala-convention/201412-map-kampala-convention-en.pdf

        1. William Johnson

          I agree with both of you – I also think the verbiage is super sketchy. Out of 43 times the word “compensation” is mentioned in the DDPD, not once does it state the amount of compensation each person or family will receive. It mentions that “swift and adequate” compensation will be allocated, and discusses funding sources for the compensatory monies, but does not make any sort of mention about the breakdown of funds to affected people. I’d be interested to learn how compensatory monies are allocated to returning IDPs and refugees in other conflicts around the world. Is the process more finite or is vagueness the norm?

    2. meaghan

      I agree with you that the DDPD did not provide a specific enough framework for the logistics of return and compensation. The actual outlined objectives are nice in theory, but since there were several groups excluded from the process of creating them, and still more groups that have not signed off on the agreement, there is a good chance that the perspectives, interests, and motivations of large sectors of the population have not been addressed. This grey area worries me because it leaves a lot of opportunity for the marginalization of the IDPs who choose or do not choose to return, and also seems to leave a lot of space for those in power to ignore the issues or shift the responsibility to a different municipality, organization or institution.

  2. Melanie Horne

    Bill,

    I completely agree that security is a vital aspect of a refugee’s desire to return. I think it is necessary to establish some sense of law and order. An example that I am more familiar with that relates to this article as well is that of the Congolese refugees in Rwanda and other neighboring countries. They wish to return, but know that they are better off where they are (even if the conditions in the camps are less than desirable ) than returning to the turmoil that is still unresolved within DRC. The Congo is seen as a “lost cause” and that plays a large role in the lack of optimism and willingness to return within the Congolese refugee population.

  3. Melanie Horne

    Learning from this post, since the signing of the DDPD in 2011, military confrontations in Darfur have decreased. This element alone can spark a sense of hope among the refugee communities that they may have viable options to return in the near future. Like many cultures, groups, nations, and individuals, refugees and IDPs need incentives. Security is one of, if not the most, important incentive there is to offer. These refugees and IDPS want to be reassured that they will be able to maintain their own livelihoods upon return and no longer have to be dependent on agencies to provide the most basic of needs for them.
    This is the meaning of return for these IDPS. They want to leave the camps to begin to reestablish their lives as farmers, workers, etc. Enough Project declared, “The camps serve as a semi-permanent ‘solution’—giving survivors a relatively secure place to stay—but life there is unpredictable so long as the root causes of the displacement remains unaddressed,” (Zapata). These refugees and IDPs want security in their own terms and not be confined to tents in a camp, even if it no longer houses the outrageous number of refugees it did a few years ago. Therefore, as long as there is progress toward a peaceful or improved state involving better security, less violence, and increased efforts toward more durable solutions, there will most likely be willingness from the refugee population to return.

    http://reliefweb.int/report/sudan/idps-refugees-discuss-return-and-resettlement-south-darfur-conference
    http://www.enoughproject.org/blogs/enough-101-displaced-darfur-refugees-chad-and-idps-sudan

    1. sara babb

      Your point about IDPs wanting “security in their own terms” is interesting. The tendency is to consider conceptualizations of security as uniform, but despite the over-arching concerns with a lack of overt violence, communities may have their own perceptions of threats. It would be interesting to learn about how the local people view their own security, and whether they consider the armed rebel groups as a good or bad thing for their communal safety.

    2. Savannah Hill

      Hi Melanie,
      I think you are right that people want to live life on their own terms. I know a lot of my refugee clients often tell me that they do not want to rely on my agency’s assistance. They do not want to live off of food stamps and TANF. They want to work and be contributing members of society. They want to be proud of their role in a community. I think that for some people, returning home means that they regain this sense of self-sufficiency and pride in themselves. Thanks for the post,Savannah

    3. yara

      Melanie,

      Your insight is on point! Security and stability are the end goals whether that’s in the community, or at work. The collaborative efforts we read about in this article indicate that a lot is happening to ensure safety and security – although the results are not perfect with frequent military confrontations, the impact thus far has been applaudable.

      I also think there’s a coping element to this idea of return. Coping in the sense that their pride, dignity, identity has been tainted and there is a strong need to regain one’s identity through reintegration in the community.

  4. sara babb

    The main motivation for voluntary return of IDPs from the Darfur region is the improved security situation brought about by the signing of the DDPD in 2011 by the Sudanese government and local militias. This peace agreement has greatly reduced the incidence of armed conflict in the region to the degree that families are confident enough in to leave the camps and begin to rebuild their lives. Additional motivating factors are the possibility of assistance and improved local services in impacted communities as well as the desire for families to once again become self-sufficient rather than relying on aid for survival. Self-sufficiency is an important aspect of dignity for both individuals as well as communities.

    Departing the camps and retuning to their communities has significant implications for the IDPs. Besides the benefits of resuming their traditional lifestyles and providing for themselves, there will be significant challenges. Land may be occupied by others, herds may have been decimated or scattered, land may be been damaged and left uncultivated, houses and community centers may have been destroyed, and memories of the violence and exodus may be exacerbated upon return. According to this article, however, most families perceive the benefits as outweighing the challenges.

    In addition to the individual challenges families face in returning, there are also significant threats to the continued stability of the region. The local militias are not unanimous in their support for the peace deal, and a considerable number remain opposed and armed. Additionally, local sources contend that as of early 2013, only 7% of the deal had been implemented, and very limited progress had been made toward disarmament. Combined with the pariah nature of the Sudanese government, the number of arms and dissent present a considerable threat to the sustainability of the present security situation. The UN also warns as of January 2015 that Darfur is a potential “fertile ground” for jihadists groups, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and ISIS.

    Additional Resources:
    Doha Document for Peace in Darfur – http://unamid.unmissions.org/Portals/UNAMID/DDPD%20English.pdf
    Progress on the DDPD – http://sudanow.info.sd/ddpd-implemented-by-7-only-signatory-jem-official/
    Danger of Militant Islamism in Darfur – http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article53772

    1. Melanie Horne

      Sara,

      I think you highlight very well that while there has indeed been improvements in Sudan towards stability, there is still much to be done to truly establish a secure environment for these returnees.

      1. William Johnson

        It is encouraging that people’s willingness to return home is increasing, but recent fighting in the region has forced over 40,000 people to flee conflict since the start of 2015. I agree, Sara and Melanie, that much more needs to be done to establish a secure environment. To add to the volatile dynamics in the region due to the potential for other violent armed groups such as AQIM and ISIS to establish a presence, UNHCR estimates over 120,000 South Sudanese refugees have fled north, (many to Darfur), since late 2013. Now that we have discussed the negatives of the situation…..how do we create sound policy and strategy to improve the volatile dynamics and ease human suffering in Sudan?

        http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50129#.VO1St_nF8zA

  5. richard1

    In the context of the above blog post, “return” signifies a restoration to the way of life of those IDPs who were displaced and as a result, lost a sense of who and what they were pre-conflict era. As Fatima Abdul-Salam, a displaced woman in Abu Shouk camp underscored, voluntary return is better than staying at the camps. “We want to return to our homes and exercise our normal works. We do not want to depend on what is provided by the organizations of food that do not meet our needs,” she said.
    “Definitely we want to voluntarily return to our home areas as it is illogical to live in the camp forever. We want to return to our villages and exercise our normal works of cultivation and grazing,” said, an administration official in Abu Shouk camp. The afore mentioned quotes are depictions of the meaning of “return” for a cross-section of IDPs in Darfur. To the Abu Shouk camp official, not being able to cultivate and graze is a loss of one’s identity, culture, and way of life.
    Undoubtedly, from accounts narrating the current state of affairs in IDP camps, the situation has dramatically improved. One account even states that,“this camp (referring to Abu Shouk) has become part of El Fasher city and life here is better where health, water and education services are provided. While the challenges faced by IDPs are numerous, especially in relation to concepts and theories like social identity, categorization (us versus them mentality),just to mention a few, the account about Abu Shouk camp being part of El Fasher city indicates that, a lot have been done to integrate IDPs living there to feel welcome and become part of the community. However, inspite of these improvements, it is nothing compared to returning to one’s original way of life where they will wholly feel at home.
    One can also infer from the blog post that, with the signing of the DDPD which triggered a reduction in violent attacks, it created an atmosphere of relative peace, thus empowering IDPs to want to return home. And having read the comprehensive DDPD report, chapter IV, article 49 # 241 ensures the right to return voluntarily and in safety and dignity to homes of origin. Article 51 # 252 also recognizes a voluntary return and resettlement commission with part of its duties being to ensure that the conditions required for sustainable return are in place.
    Nonetheless, as it is with most conflicts, typically those with ethnic dynamics, there is always the tendency of conflicting parties going back on their word irrespective of what document was signed. Especially in this particular scenario were the Justice and Equality movement refused to sign the agreement. It leaves and avenue to keep this conflict protracted and crush the dreams and aspirations of those who want to return home, and undermine the voluntary return efforts as stipulated in the DDPD agreement.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/unamid-photo/9172826141/in/photostream/
    http://unamid.unmissions.org/Portals/UNAMID/DDPD%20English.pdf

  6. srajput2

    Posting on behalf of Effie: Received as e-mail attachment Feb 24, 6:26pm
    The crisis started in 2003 when rebels from non-Arab groups picked up arms against the government of Sudan. They accused the government of oppressing non-Arabs. Many believe the origin of the conflict were between Arabs and non-Arabs, Arabs and Blacks, or even ethnic tribes. The framing for the conflict was a mix of ideas and thoughts in the global community. Understanding why the conflict started or when the conflict started is a key point because it is most likely that the conflict started long ago but peaked in 2003. The main root of the Darfur conflict is the structural, political, and economic disregard of a big majority of the Darfur people, and the Sudanese in general. The wealth of Sudan was unequally distributed into a centralized individual government. Protests and peace rallies existed before the conflict in Darfur before 2003. The conflict between the South of Sudan started in 1957 after the independence of the country and continued for many years. The international community focused on the humanitarian consequences of the conflict that affected the Sudanese people. The 2 million IDP are supported refugees. The refugees are important however, it is important to monitor the situation because it is very fragile. The Sudanese government in 2003 dealt with the uprising by dividing and rule concept which means supporting some groups and opposing others. Some groups were supported by given armed weapons to oppose other groups. This created an internal war, which made it difficult for people to unite against the government. The international community is much dispersed when it comes to the conflict many countries support different sides. Europe and the US support the rebels where as China supports the government. The situation is very complex making the solution very difficult to understand the peace process. The peace process during this time period in away overlooked Darfur. The international community has too many national interests to get involved in Sudan and South Sudan. Many international interests at the time were mixed in with the people of the global community and those of Sudan.
    Bill I agree with you on the security issue. I feel that physical security would be one of the main reasons that inter displaced people want to return home. The presence of a police for and UN peacekeeping force is promoting people to feel safe and secure. The Sudanese people would not want to return if they felt vulnerable or exposed to violence or danger. The meaning of return for Sudanese individuals would be their interests in returning to their property and farmland. As stated in the post many people would want to return to their original communities. As mentioned in the post the government has set up volunteer programs to return back home, supporting individuals and fostering events.
    http://www.unhcr.org.uk/about-us/key-facts-and-figures.html

    1. William Johnson

      Effie, it is great the government is trying to create a safe environment for displaced people to return back home. Regardless of any type of incentive of compensatory pay, however, the issue of creating sustainable livelihoods exists for many who return home to re-start their life again. Policies need to be created to not only guarantee support to returnees in the form of financial assistance and security, but to rebuild economic systems that were destroyed during the conflict.

      The Sudan National Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF-N) is a fund established by 10 donors, including the World Bank, to consolidate peace and spur pro-poor growth within the country. According to the World Bank’s independent evaluation of the fund, it was found that concern existed with regard to distributive allocation of resources throughout the country. There was concern that too much money was focused toward the Darfur region, and not spread evenly throughout the country. I believe that it is valid to allocate resources more heavily toward the Darfur region as focused microfinance, investment, and civil society capacity-building here is extremely valuable given the devastation it has seen in recent years.

      Investments spurring pro-poor growth are valuable and necessary in markets that are not typical Westernized and market-based. In addition, practices such as market-creating innovation can bolster the health of the economy and create new jobs, not just force the “invisible hand” or laissez-faire-based market levers to decide the economic health of the surrounding populations. National governments and foreign direct investment should direct financing toward innovate goods and services that simply do not replace other goods and services in the marketplace, but create fresh new demand – and ultimately markets.

      http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2013/06/18/000442464_20130618124455/Rendered/PDF/785240WP0MDTF00Box0377340B00PUBLIC0.pdf

    2. richard1

      Effie, you raise a lot of issues in your post which touches on several dynamics of the conflict in Darfur. First, the ethnic component you talked about played an important role in shaping the dynamics of the conflict. The Janjaweed (meaning man with a gun on a horse) militiamen, supported and funded by the Sudanese government used rape as a systematic weapon of ethnic cleansing. Meanwhile, Sudanese laws discriminate against female victims, who face harassment and intimidation at local police stations if they try to report the crime.
      A report titled, “Laws Without Justice: An Assessment of Sudanese Laws Affecting Survivors of Rape,” by the humanitarian group Refugees International, said rape was “an integral part of the pattern of violence that the government of Sudan is inflicting upon the targeted ethnic groups in Darfur.” “The raping of Darfuri women is not sporadic or random, but is inexorably linked to the systematic destruction of their communities,” the report said. Victims are taunted with racial slurs such as “I will give you a light-skinned baby to take this land from you,” according to one woman interviewed in the Touloum refugee camp in Chad, recalling the words of a Janjaweed militiaman who raped her.

      Another dimension is this “Chinese Syndrome” I talked about in blog # 1. They only seem to care about making lots of money off the backs of the Sudanese government and the rest of Africa and would not even pressure them to straighten their human right situation and to enforce other basic civil liberties. In October 2007, the Justice and Equality Movement (same rebel group who declined to sign the DDPD agreement) attacked the Defra oilfield in the Kordofan region of Sudan. The Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, a Chinese-led consortium, controls the field. The next month, Chinese engineers arrived in Darfur to work on the Defra field. A spokes person of the JEM stated that “we oppose them coming because the Chinese are not interested in human rights. They are just interested in Sudan’s resources.” The JEM claims that the revenue from oil sold to China funds the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militia.
      Though the dynamics of this conflict have evolved over the years, this goes to show how complex and protracted it has been from its onset.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/02/AR2007070201627.html
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justice_and_Equality_Movement

    3. meaghan

      I am so glad that you dug deeper into the background and history of the conflict. There are so many overlapping and convoluted factors that it can be difficult to break down the background of the interests and motivations of each stakeholder group and address the root causes of the conflict. Particularly when international interests are involved in exacerbating the conflict but not in supporting its resolution (as compared to natural disasters like the tsunami in Indonesia). Do you think that the international community has a role to play in the peace process, or do you think that they have already overstepped their boundaries too much? I wonder if regional governments might have more success in influencing a meaningful and lasting peace process.

  7. srajput2

    Posted on behalf of Meg: The idea of return is complicated on many levels, even more so in the case of a protracted conflict that has not been entirely resolved. The situation in Darfur has been compounded by extensive drought and its ensuing tensions which have lessened the food and water security of both camp residents and other communities. The government reportedly has played up these tensions to achieve their own agenda (LA Times).

    In terms of security, I think that there are several different types of security to consider. One being the security within the camp. Throughout the history of the camps, there have been reports of food and water shortages, leading at times to looting of camp markets. The camp director mentioned that security of the camp is high because there are only 12 murders registered. I would question however, the number of unregistered murders and other crime, and also who is doing the registration and what their interests and motivations may be. All of these factors, in addition to the ongoing conflict in Darfur lead to a sense of insecurity within the camps. There is also the consideration of physical security in the homelands of the residents, which will play a large role in their ability to remain in their areas if they choose to return home. If this security cannot be assured, there is a good chance that camp residents will be displaced yet again, and need to return to the camps. A third aspect of security is food and water security in their home areas. Years of drought and conflict have left much of the country barren, and there doesn’t seem to be much information on whether or not there is available arable land in the home areas of the IDPs. If they are unable to produce enough food to sustain themselves upon their return, they run a high risk of being displaced again.

    The motivation for return in this article specifically seems to be two fold. One, as told by the woman in the camp is a desire to return to normal life. The reality of return may not allow for IDPs to fulfill this hope, and this expectation setting should be a part of the return process. A second reason is that life would be better outside of the camps. This does not seem to be so much a motivation of return, as a desire to improve their situation. I also question the choice of the author to interview an IDP who is also a Camp Administrator. From my reading, I found that there have been moves to restructure and downscale the camps, and I wonder what a different IDP who was not part of the administration would have said about wanting to return (Dabanga). It would be interesting to learn whether or not returning will allow the IDPs to better their situation. From the additional reading I did, the Doha Documents for Peace in Darfur do loosely address the needs of the people to engage in bettering their situation upon return, but do not provide a framework for implementation. This combined with the fact that not all of the stakeholders have signed off or upheld the agreement, leads me to believe that there will be extreme logistical issues in facilitating the return of the IDPs. (Crisis Group & HSBA)

    This article did not delve too deeply into the sentimental or emotional meaning of return. To me, it seems like the IDPs interviewed for this article are seeking a sense of normalcy, agency, and independence. They want to return to their lives from before, when they were able to support themselves and live a meaningful life. The IDPs interviewed did not speak of the motivations of ancestral land. Given the ethnic ties within Sudan, there is a good chance that this is an underlying motivation.

    References:
    http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-enviro1oct01-story.html#page=1

    http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/africa/horn-of-africa/sudan/211-sudan-s-spreading-conflict-iii-the-limits-of-darfur-s-peace-process.aspx

    http://www.smallarmssurveysudan.org/facts-figures/sudan/darfur/darfur-peace-process-chronology.html
    Doha Document for Peace in Darfur
    https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/north-darfur-s-abu-shouk-and-el-salam-camps-to-be-restructured

    1. Minhee Noh

      I agree with you Meg. About the security, the number of registered murder cannot identify whole security situation in the camps. Also, there are a lot of unpacked security isseus such as rape, domestic violence, etc.

      You mentioned that this article is not developed, and I want to add my opinion to the article. This article didn’t talk about why the camp administrator encourage IDPs to return where they from. From my perspectives, it seems like they encourage IDPs to return because they make an excuse to reduce humanitarian assistant by saying that security is ensured.

  8. Minhee Noh

    This article described the security situation in the Abu Shouk camp has improved, and it makes IDPs to be motivates to return where they from. The reason why IDPs came to IDP camp is mainly security issue. Due to the conflict, they were not safe to live place where they from, so that they displaced. Although only 12 cases murders have been registered in the camp since 2004, it does not mean that the camp is “secured.” According to SUDO (2012), people who express their opinions about government can be easily arrested in the camp. Also, the fact that a lot of IDPs are working for the security in the camp makes the government agenda to get closer to the security issue rather than to the IDP issue. For the security in the camp, polices are carrying weapons around in the camp. It also makes IDPs to be traumatized (SUDO, 2012).
    Two NGOs named Centre for Justice and Trust, and Amal Centre had assisted IDPs with legal aid for resettlement. However, since both organizations were closed by the government in 2009, many IDPs are facing to lacked human security such as domestic violence, personal violence and rape in the camp (Sudo, 2012). In these behind scenes of the camp, can we consider the Abu Shouk camp as a secured place?
    Even if the Dafur War is de-escalated with eliminated direct violence by rebel groups and the government, it is hard to predict when the conflict is going to be escalated. At this moment, even if the security issues are solved as IDPs can return to where they from, they may have to seek another place to reside temporarily. In this situation, the meaning of return is not going back to where they used to live before the war. It is going back to place where has security as much as security degree before the war or before IDPs displaced. Even if IDPs are returning places where they from, there are high potentials to have conflicts with new neighbors in the areas/regions. For preventing new conflicts, the meaning of return has to be defined as returning to place with security. DABANGA (2014) described that the two IDP camp, the Abu Shouk and El Salam camps, will be restricted to become residential district of the city. If IDPs feel comfortable to live in the camps rather than places where they from, they have to live in the camp and structure their new communities and societies from the camps with security. Although it will take time to structure their societies without supports from UN agencies and NGOs, structuring their societies from the camps can be returning to situations when they were safe. Therefore, the meaning of return has to be concerned not ‘where,’ but ‘when (they were safe without threats).’

    References

    SUDO. (2012). The Humanitarian Situation in Abu Shouk Camp, al-Fasher, North Darfur. Reliefweb. Retrieved from http://reliefweb.int/report/sudan/humanitarian-situation-abu-shouk-camp-al-fasher-north-darfur

    DABANGA. (2014). North Darfur’s Abu Shouk and El Salam camps to be ‘restructured.’ DABANGA. Retrieved from https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/north-darfur-s-abu-shouk-and-el-salam-camps-to-be-restructured

  9. srajput2

    Posted on behalf of Minhe: This article described the security situation in the Abu Shouk camp has improved, and it makes IDPs to be motivates to return where they from. The reason why IDPs came to IDP camp is mainly security issue. Due to the conflict, they were not safe to live place where they from, so that they displaced. Although only 12 cases murders have been registered in the camp since 2004, it does not mean that the camp is “secured.” According to SUDO (2012), people who express their opinions about government can be easily arrested in the camp. Also, the fact that a lot of IDPs are working for the security in the camp makes the government agenda to get closer to the security issue rather than to the IDP issue. For the security in the camp, polices are carrying weapons around in the camp. It also makes IDPs to be traumatized (SUDO, 2012).

    Two NGOs named Centre for Justice and Trust, and Amal Centre had assisted IDPs with legal aid for resettlement. However, since both organizations were closed by the government in 2009, many IDPs are facing to lacked human security such as domestic violence, personal violence and rape in the camp (Sudo, 2012). In these behind scenes of the camp, can we consider the Abu Shouk camp as a secured place?

    Even if the Dafur War is de-escalated with eliminated direct violence by rebel groups and the government, it is hard to predict when the conflict is going to be escalated. At this moment, even if the security issues are solved as IDPs can return to where they from, they may have to seek another place to reside temporarily. In this situation, the meaning of return is not going back to where they used to live before the war. It is going back to place where has security as much as security degree before the war or before IDPs displaced. Even if IDPs are returning places where they from, there are high potentials to have conflicts with new neighbors in the areas/regions. For preventing new conflicts, the meaning of return has to be defined as returning to place with security. DABANGA (2014) described that the two IDP camp, the Abu Shouk and El Salam camps, will be restricted to become residential district of the city. If IDPs feel comfortable to live in the camps rather than places where they from, they have to live in the camp and structure their new communities and societies from the camps with security. Although it will take time to structure their societies without supports from UN agencies and NGOs, structuring their societies from the camps can be returning to situations when they were safe. Therefore, the meaning of return has to be concerned not ‘where,’ but ‘when (they were safe without threats).’

    References

    SUDO. (2012). The Humanitarian Situation in Abu Shouk Camp, al-Fasher, North Darfur. Reliefweb. Retrieved from http://reliefweb.int/report/sudan/humanitarian-situation-abu-shouk-camp-al-fasher-north-darfur

    DABANGA. (2014). North Darfur’s Abu Shouk and El Salam camps to be ‘restructured.’ DABANGA. Retrieved from https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/north-darfur-s-abu-shouk-and-el-salam-camps-to-be-restructured

    1. meaghan

      Minhe, I think you bring up a great point that the meaning of return is not always a where, but sometimes a when. Temporal space is a key aspect of a less tangible sense of security, that is often difficult to address in policy. I also like your point that if the IDPs have made a new home and have a feeling of security where they are now, they should not be forced do relocate (aka be displaced) back to where they came from.

    2. Savannah Hill

      Hi Minhe,
      I’m glad that you pointed out some facts about security in the camps. Often times when I read articles I’s to trusting. When someone says the camps are secure, I believe the author without too much questioning. However, after reading both your and Meg’s posts, I realized that “secure” is not actually what I would consider secure or safe. If people are still experiencing rapes and domestic violence, it does not matter if only 12 murders were committed–I still would not feel secure.

      I also like your thought that returning home does not have to mean to a where–or a location. Perhaps returning home might mean returning to a sense of normalcy–to the way their lives were prior to the violence.

  10. srajput2

    Posted on behalf of Meg in response to Effie and Bill
    Effie-

    I am so glad that you dug deeper into the background and history of the conflict. There are so many overlapping and convoluted factors that it can be difficult to break down the background of the interests and motivations of each stakeholder group and address the root causes of the conflict. Particularly when international interests are involved in exacerbating the conflict but not in supporting its resolution (as compared to natural disasters like the tsunami in Indonesia). Do you think that the international community has a role to play in the peace process, or do you think that they have already overstepped their boundaries too much? I wonder if regional governments might have more success in influencing a meaningful and lasting peace process.

    Bill-
    I agree with you that the DDPD did not provide a specific enough framework for the logistics of return and compensation. The actual outlined objectives are nice in theory, but since there were several groups excluded from the process of creating them, and still more groups that have not signed off on the agreement, there is a good chance that the perspectives, interests, and motivations of large sectors of the population have not been addressed. This grey area worries me because it leaves a lot of opportunity for the marginalization of the IDPs who choose or do not choose to return, and also seems to leave a lot of space for those in power to ignore the issues or shift the responsibility to a different municipality, organization or institution.

  11. meaghan

    The idea of return is complicated on many levels, even more so in the case of a protracted conflict that has not been entirely resolved. The situation in Darfur has been compounded by extensive drought and its ensuing tensions which have lessened the food and water security of both camp residents and other communities. The government reportedly has played up these tensions to achieve their own agenda (LA Times).

    In terms of security, I think that there are several different types of security to consider. One being the security within the camp. Throughout the history of the camps, there have been reports of food and water shortages, leading at times to looting of camp markets. The camp director mentioned that security of the camp is high because there are only 12 murders registered. I would question however, the number of unregistered murders and other crime, and also who is doing the registration and what their interests and motivations may be. All of these factors, in addition to the ongoing conflict in Darfur lead to a sense of insecurity within the camps. There is also the consideration of physical security in the homelands of the residents, which will play a large role in their ability to remain in their areas if they choose to return home. If this security cannot be assured, there is a good chance that camp residents will be displaced yet again, and need to return to the camps. A third aspect of security is food and water security in their home areas. Years of drought and conflict have left much of the country barren, and there doesn’t seem to be much information on whether or not there is available arable land in the home areas of the IDPs. If they are unable to produce enough food to sustain themselves upon their return, they run a high risk of being displaced again.

    The motivation for return in this article specifically seems to be two fold. One, as told by the woman in the camp is a desire to return to normal life. The reality of return may not allow for IDPs to fulfill this hope, and this expectation setting should be a part of the return process. A second reason is that life would be better outside of the camps. This does not seem to be so much a motivation of return, as a desire to improve their situation. I also question the choice of the author to interview an IDP who is also a Camp Administrator. From my reading, I found that there have been moves to restructure and downscale the camps, and I wonder what a different IDP who was not part of the administration would have said about wanting to return (Dabanga). It would be interesting to learn whether or not returning will allow the IDPs to better their situation. From the additional reading I did, the Doha Documents for Peace in Darfur do loosely address the needs of the people to engage in bettering their situation upon return, but do not provide a framework for implementation. This combined with the fact that not all of the stakeholders have signed off or upheld the agreement, leads me to believe that there will be extreme logistical issues in facilitating the return of the IDPs. (Crisis Group & HSBA)

    This article did not delve too deeply into the sentimental or emotional meaning of return. To me, it seems like the IDPs interviewed for this article are seeking a sense of normalcy, agency, and independence. They want to return to their lives from before, when they were able to support themselves and live a meaningful life. The IDPs interviewed did not speak of the motivations of ancestral land. Given the ethnic ties within Sudan, there is a good chance that this is an underlying motivation.

    References:
    http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-enviro1oct01-story.html#page=1

    http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/regions/africa/horn-of-africa/sudan/211-sudan-s-spreading-conflict-iii-the-limits-of-darfur-s-peace-process.aspx

    http://www.smallarmssurveysudan.org/facts-figures/sudan/darfur/darfur-peace-process-chronology.html
    Doha Document for Peace in Darfur
    https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/north-darfur-s-abu-shouk-and-el-salam-camps-to-be-restructured

    1. Savannah Hill

      Hi Meg,
      I like your question about whether returning is actually better for the IDPs or not. From reading through some of the other posts and comments, the situation in South Sudan is not that great. Perhaps the country is not ready to start moving IDPs out of camps. You are right that environmental issue such as drought can really impact the return as well. If these people return to their homes but have no food or water security, their basic needs are not being met and it is likely that they will return to the camps.

  12. srajput2

    Posted on behalf of Savannah: I am interested in this part of the world, and this conflict specifically because I am fascinated by genocide. I know that is disgusting, but it is the truth. How do people become brainwashed to a point that they lose their sense of humanity and just kill off entire populations? I actually did a research paper of Darfur in one of my undergraduate courses. Anyway, I like the blog post. I think it does a nice job or discussing the possibilities for returning to their home villages and also adds reasons why people are afraid to return. It was also interesting to read that the Abu Shouk camp was doing so well with resources such as education, health capabilities, and water. It caused me to consider the idea that refugee camps can turn into new villages and then possible become so well-run that perhaps people would rather stay there than return to their homes.

    I read through the South Sudan Refugee Response Plan put out by UNHCR. As of November 2014, there were 1.4 million IDPs is South Sudan. Almost .5 million refugees had fled the country. The document explains the response plans for neighboring countries such as Sudan, Kenya, and Ethiopia. It tells of the huge amounts of money spent on refugees as well as the services for displaced people. There are services for education, housing, water and sanitation, food and non-food donations, etc. The most interesting part of the document is that UNHCR expects the numbers for fleeing refugees to continually rise through 2015. This is in opposition to the idea that people are returning to their homes.

    From the blog we learned that people are returning because they feel more secure. In 2011 an agreement was signed by the Sudanese government and the Darfur Liberation and Justice Movement. The document was for Peace in Darfur. After that was signed, the military confrontations in Darfur reduced. Specific signs of security that motivate people to return include “establishment of model villages, enforcement of the sovereignty of the State and the rule of law, collecting the wide-spread arms in the region and compensating those affected by the conflict”.

    The blog gave quotes from some people saying that they wanted to return home; it is illogical to stay forever in the camp. I think the meaning of return for these IDPs is that they can go back to their villages and restart their lives at their own pace. One woman quoted that the food in the camp was not enough for their needs. If she was to return her hope is that there would be better food security. I think that for many IDPs returning to their job is important too. Jobs provide a sense of identity and perhaps living in the camp they lose the ability to hold steady work. Perhaps returning for these individuals means going back not only to their homes but also to work.
    http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/opendocPDFViewer.html?docid=54919e999&query=darfur

  13. richard1

    Hello all,
    I wanted to share these links to show that, in spite of all the deals including the DDPD 2011 agreement, it seems there are still atrocities being committed especially by government forces, which has resulted in more IDPs. The dates on these reports indicate they may have been committed as currently as last month.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/12/world/africa/soldiers-from-sudan-raped-hundreds-in-darfur-human-rights-group-finds.html?ref=topics&_r=0
    http://reliefweb.int/report/sudan/unamid-deputy-head-visits-newly-displaced-um-baru-north-darfur

    1. yara

      Richard,
      I’m so glad you’re sharing these resources because the more I read about the conflict the more I realized that the government is doing a lot of double work. On one hand we see their cooperation and commitment to returning IDPs to their homes and land. On the other hand, they are committing such atrocities and even attempting to deny the existence of IDPs. Baffling!

  14. yara

    It’s apparent that the Voluntary Return Program has been extremely successful in promoting and coordinating safe returns; this is evident by the sharp decrease of displaced persons from 127,000 three years ago to 47,500 at present day. There are many layers and components of elements, which can be motivating people to return. First, the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) reconfigured the country’s climate to where displaced persons felt safe in returning home. This document stabilized tensions and led to a decrease in military confrontations in Darfur. Secondly, the government’s efforts such as to compensate IDPs or to promise implementation of rule of law are incentives for the displaced persons to return to their land. Although these initiatives have not been implemented yet, the promise itself is an incentive.

    In any IDPs crisis there are three options: integration, relocation and return. In previous courses I’ve learned that the main criteria in their decision include: security in their home village, access to land, access to basic services and economic opportunities. The meaning of return in this context refers to the regaining of ownership of one’s land, property, and assets that they were forced to leave behind. The return has an underlying implication of stability and normality in the home, work, and the community.

    I’ve read that the government is planning on re-structuring several IDP camps into residential cities for permanent residence. The sources for that information were local Sudanese newspapers and regional African news outlets but I’m not entirely sure if this information is credible. If this were the case however, then I hope that this return program continues to ensure IDPs safety and return to their homes before the government begins covering up the problem and denying the existence of IDPs.

    sources:
    http://www.africa-news.info/news/sudan-countries/2014/01/north-darfur-abu-shouk-and-el-salam-camps-to-be-dismantled/

  15. yara

    6 days ago the UN reported the following: “The South Sudan crisis has uprooted an estimated 1.9 million people inside their country, including nearly 100,000 who have fled to United Nations bases”

    This is also a good visual on the prevalence of conflict in the area.

    Sources:
    http://sites.tufts.edu/reinventingpeace/2014/11/07/the-uns-darfur-cover-up-and-the-need-for-reliable-conflict-data/
    http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=50129#.VO5AjHaczOo

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