Darfur’s Displaced Persons and the Question of Returns: A Catastrophe is Impending
Eric Reeves | April 25, 2018 | https://wp.me/p45rOG-2eO
[See also A Grim Update to “Darfur’s Displaced Persons and the Question of Returns” (April 27, 2018) | https://wp.me/p45rOG-2eU
There are currently some three million Darfuris who remain displaced, either in Darfur or eastern Chad. They are overwhelmingly from Darfur’s non-Arab/African tribal groups and their fate going forward looks increasingly ominous. The experience of those who have sought to return to their homes and villages and lands has almost always been one of unsustainable violence and insecurity, resulting in their returning to the places where they had lived as displaced persons. This fundamental fact is highlighted repeatedly in the following analysis and overview of the past year in Darfur.
The current breakdown of displaced persons, according to figures from the UN High Commission for Refugees and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, is approximately this:
• More than 300,000 Darfuris are refugees in eastern Chad and face both declining humanitarian services and increasing pressure from the brutal Chadian regime of Idriss Déby to return to Darfur;
• Approximately 2.2 million Darfuris are in one of the roughly 100 camp sites listed by the UN;
• Approximately 500,000 Darfuris are living in host villages, temporary camp gathering locations, or are unaccounted for and without assistance.
Many of these people have been displaced multiple times. There is also continual new displacement, which negates any diminishment in the total census for displaced persons. UN figures on displacement have been wildly inconsistent, and at times clearly politicized, with an eye to pleasing the Khartoum regime. But there can be no turning away from the massive reality of displacement in Darfur and eastern Chad—nor any turning away from the ruthless policy commitments of the Khartoum regime, which pose an extreme threat to these populations.
Who They Are, What They Have Experienced
Again, these people are overwhelming from the rural non-Arab/African tribal groups that have been the focus of the Khartoum’s regime’s genocidal counter-insurgency for more than fifteen years. Violence directed against the rebel groups that Khartoum has sought to exterminate has diminished very significantly, as the rebels have largely been subdued or have entered a cease-fire arrangement (at present) with Khartoum. The great exception is the Sudan Liberation Army of Abdel Wahid al-Nur (SLA/AW), which has recently engaged in a series of battles with Khartoum’s regular and militia forces in the East Jebel Marra region of South Darfur near Feina. The result has been a rampage by Khartoum’s militia force of choice, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which have engaged in retaliatory scorched earth warfare that has affected many villages in the region and has reportedly newly displaced tens of thousands of people.
Human Rights Watch photos of village destruction around Feina, East Jebel Marra (South Darfur)
Military victory seems to be complete for Khartoum, despite the occasional militarily successful strikes by SLA/AW. The military phase of the genocidal conflict was largely completed with Khartoum’s extraordinarily brutal and destructive 2016 Jebel Marra offensive in Central Darfur (the military extension of several years of equally brutal and destructive fighting in the East Jebel Marra areas of North Darfur. Despite the general view, often casually expressed, that violence has not been particularly great in Darfur recently, the years 2013 – 2017 in particular demonstrated just how misguided such a view is. See in particular |
• “Men Without Mercy: Rapid Support Forces Attacks against Civilians in Darfur, Sudan,” Human Rights Watch, September 2015 | https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/09/09/men-no-mercy/rapid-support-forces-attacks-against-civilians-darfur-sudan
• “Scorched Earth, Poisoned Air: Sudanese Government Forces Ravage Jebel Marra, Darfur,” Amnesty International, September 2016 | https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/AFR5448772016ENGLISH.PDF
• “’Changing the Demography’: Violent Expropriation and Destruction of Farmlands in Darfur, November 2014 – November 2015,” Eric Reeves, author; Maya Baca, research and editing, December 1, 2015 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1P4/
• “Continuing Mass Rape of Girls in Darfur: The most heinous crime generates no international outrage,” January 2016, Eric Reeves, author; Maya Baca, research and editing | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1QG [Arabic translation of this report | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Rr ]
The fact that three million people remain displaced, refusing to return to their homes and villages and lands, reflects a climate of extreme insecurity; and the violent fates of those who have attempted to return generate news that travels widely and rapidly in Darfur. In this analysis I look at what has been reported (largely by Radio Dabanga) of the fates of those who attempted to return over the past year. The dispatches make for grim reading, and stand in stark contrast with the upbeat assessments of the Khartoum regime and the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), as well as various UN agencies, which seem intent on highlighting small victories and ignoring the daily referendum that is represented by three million people voting with their feet, remaining in camps and other locations, far too terrified to return to face the violence of those who have occupied their lands—and are clearly intent on keeping them using all necessary force.
Again and again, the Darfuri displaced make clear that they will not consider returning in light of present insecurity, even as the Khartoum regime and its appointed officials in Darfur continue to talk about returns, even compulsory returns, and simply ignore the prevailing extreme insecurity.
This insecurity is also reflected in continued assaults on camps, towns, and villages throughout Darfur—realities that are nowhere adequately reflected by UNAMID reporting. Indeed, a weak and demoralized UNAMID continues to be prevented from investigating atrocities, despite a mandate that nominally gives it full freedom of movement. Further diminishment in UNAMID troop and police strength is likely when the UN Security Council debates the renewal of the Mission (the June 2017 renewal of UNAMID’s mandate reduced troop strength by 40% and police personnel by 33%).
The Grimmest of Futures
Despite this serious and widespread insecurity—for which Khartoum is largely responsible—the regime persists with aggressive plans to close and dismantle camps, thereby forcing displaced persons to “return,” or at least leave the camps that have offered tenuous shelter and humanitarian resources. Many hundreds of thousands of people now receiving international humanitarian assistance because of the efficiencies of camp distributions will become inaccessible for one reason or another if the camps are dismantled. Food distribution, medical treatment, the availability of clean water, and education will all be terribly disrupted with camps closures and dismantlings. The consequences of such disruption will be catastrophic.
The following individual sections reflect reports from the past year bearing on the experiences and fate of returnees. While there are some reports from the UN, the vast majority come from Radio Dabanga and Sudan Tribune, primarily the former. Reports from Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre (DRDC) and the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) are also important sources, and are included here by way of distillation in Radio Dabanga dispatches (with links).
[The body of this analysis may be found at | https://wp.me/p45rOG-2eO/ ; there, all emphases within quoted material (in bold) have been added; all commentary in blue bold italics is mine—ER]
The Experience of Returnees
It is patently hypocritical and expedient for the UN to celebrate returns of Darfuris while almost never commenting on the returns that fail, typically because of intolerable violence and insecurity. Over the past year, the following dispatches stand as representative and do more than anything to explain the unchanging total census of displaced persons in Darfur and eastern Chad. The most recent dispatch from Radio Dabanga is also one of the most comprehensive:
• Again voluntary returnees killed in South Darfur | Radio Dabanga, April 22, 2018 | KATILA, South Darfur
Unidentified gunmen killed four returnees and wounded six others in an attack by unknown gunmen on the village of Jamra in South Darfur’s Katila on Thursday. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, Abakar El Tom, South Darfur MP for Katila locality reported that unknown gunmen ambushed a group of residents of Jamra village, who had earlier returned within the Voluntary Return Programme. “They suddenly began shooting at the villagers on Thursday evening,” he said. “Omda Abdelmanan Omar, Sheikh Jibril Wad Kursi, Abdelrahman Abudilli and Daoud Ahmed died instantly. Six others, including the Omda of Katila, Mahmoud Jibril, were injured.” The wounded, two of them in a serious condition, were transferred to the Turkish Hospital in the South Darfur capital of Nyala.
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 plans to transform the camps into residential areas, or integrate them into existing towns. In February, Sudan’s President Omar Al Bashir instructed the acceleration of the voluntary repatriation of Sudanese refugees in Chad and the return of Chadian refugees in Sudan.
The Voluntary Repatriation and Reconstruction Commission in Darfur announced earlier this month that it will conduct a comprehensive survey among those people who have already voluntary returned to their places of origin, to identify their basic needs. The region has witnessed a growing trend of returns of refugees and displaced people in the last few years. According to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) this “is in part thanks to general security improvements in Darfur as a result of peace agreements between the government and some armed groups.”
[This deeply misrepresents conditions in Darfur and the plight of displaced persons who, in the main, confront intolerable insecurity if they attempt to return to their homes and lands—ER]
However, reports continue to reach this station about attacks on returnees in the conflict-plagued western Sudanese region. Witnesses say that the insecurity is often caused by roaming militiamen and the abundance of weapons –that have not been found and collected during the government’s disarmament campaign last year– as well as the danger of running into armed new settlers in the home areas.
About 400 displaced who returned from El Neem camp to their village in East Darfur, were assaulted and beaten by militant new settlers in March. In Kutum in North Darfur, members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces detained seven returnees who were cleaning their farms.
In South Darfur, militiamen ambushed displaced people who had returned to Marla village in Bielel in February. In response, the state authorities arrested 14 tribal leaders from the area. On April 7, a community leader sustained bullet wounds in an attack on voluntary returnee in Gireida locality in South Darfur.
[The reality of violence—including killings and rapes—is all too clear to displaced Darfuris, however much the UN attempts to stay on-side with Khartoum’s pronouncements about security in Darfur—ER]
According to the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the displacement rate in Darfur declined in 2017 in comparison to previous years. Yet the region is “awash with small arms and light weapons, criminality and sporadic clashes,” he said in April. In his report on the worldwide conflict-related sexual violence in 2017, sexual violence remains prevalent in Sudan’s western region, Guterres said – though the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reported 152 cases of rape in Darfur throughout 2017, which shows a decrease compared to the 222 victims of sexual violence recorded in the year before.
[The UNAMID reported total is preposterously low and reflects the dismal reporting record of UNAMID over more than ten years, particularly on sexual violence; see the extraordinary statement on sexual violence in Darfur by UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, March 1, 2018 | NEW YORK | https://wp.me/p45rOG-2dX —ER]
• Gunmen shoot, rob voluntary returnees in South Darfur | Radio Dabanga, April 9, 2018 | GIREIDA, South Darfur
A community leader sustained bullet wounds in an attack by gunmen on voluntary returnees in Gireida locality in South Darfur on Saturday. “Five gunmen ambushed a group of displaced from the Gireida camps on Saturday evening,” one of the victims reported to Radio Dabanga . “The people were on their way back to Um Balola village.” “Omda Ahmed Ali who was heading the returnees was hit by bullets. The attackers the seized our money and mobile telephones, and fled,” he said. “The omda is currently being treated in the Nyala Teaching Hospital.”
• Two injured in militia attack on North Darfur returnee village | Radio Dabanga, April 2, 2018 | TAWILA, North Darfur
Two formerly displaced people were wounded in a shooting in Turbo village in North Darfur’s Tawila on Saturday. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, the Sheikh of Turbo reported that militiamen riding in two Land Cruisers and others on camels began shooting at the village at about 9 pm.
Maryam Eisa (12) and Abdelmajid Haroun sustained bullet wounds, he said. After the villagers fled their homes, the attackers left, taking with them about 17 sheep and three donkeys.
Turbo lies 15 km south of Dubo El Omda in Tawila locality. The sheikh said that about 30 families returned from the Shadad camp for the displaced near Shangil Tobaya a month and a half ago. He added that the same militiamen as well stole seven horses and carts belonging to residents of the camp who went out to collect firewood near the camp on Saturday morning.
• New settlers assault, drive-off East Darfur returnees | Radio Dabanga, March 15, 2018 | ED DAEIN (formerly part of South Darfur)
Two displaced people who returned to Areit village in Asalaya locality in East Darfur were injured and forcibly returned in an attack by new settlers who refused to accept their return to their area of origin on Sunday. Sheikhs from camp Neem in Ed Daein told Radio Dabanga that 400 displaced people returned to the village on Sunday according to voluntary repatriation programmes, but the settlers in the village refused their return, assaulted them and injured Adam Yousef and Ahmad Omar Adam who were taken to the state capital Ed Daein for treatment.
The sheikhs said that the displaced returned to camp Neem on Monday morning on the orders of the locality commissioner, Hamdan Adam El Bushra, so as to prevent further violence and clashes.
• “Armed settlers occupy farms”: North Darfur returnees | Radio Dabanga, June 27, 2017 | TAWILA
Displaced people returning to their farms in Tawila, North Darfur, encountered armed herders who prevented them from cultivating their land. A number of returnees, including farmers from Abu Shouk and Zamzam camps, went to cultivate the farmlands in Garangu, Tarni, Tabit, Gallab and Kolgi, on Saturday and Sunday. Several returnees reported to Radio Dabanga that armed herders have occupied their lands and told them to leave.
“They threatened us under the pretext that the land now belongs to them and whoever wants to cultivate a land, must reach an agreement with them,” a farmer said. “Or otherwise we should return to where we came from.”
• Villagers robbed a month after voluntary return to Darfur’s East Jebel Marra | Radio Dabanga, October 28, 2017 | EAST JEBEL MARRA
At least five people, including a young woman, were wounded and many others are missing after an attack and robbery by militiamen on the area of Leiba in South Darfur’s East Jebel Marra on Friday. Hundreds of livestock and villagers’ belonging were stolen. A village elder complained that the government troops stationed in the area did not intervene to protect the people: “They only fired into the air to protect themselves and to avoid attack by the militiamen.”
Fleeing villagers told Radio Dabanga that militiamen in three vehicles mounted with dushka machine guns, and others riding camels and horses, attacked the area of Leiba on Friday morning and fired heavily into the air during the attack. They pointed out that the people, who were previously displaced by hostilities, moved back to the area of Leiba just a month ago in the context of voluntary return. Gisma Adam (18), Abdelhalim Yahya (35), Abdelrazek Yousef (55), Kaltoum Abaker (62), in addition to a girl named Hikma are listed as injured, but callers cautioned that there might be more casualties as several people are still missing or unaccounted for.
• Militiamen assault displaced people returning to South Darfur | Radio Dabanga, February 20, 2018 | BIELEL, South Darfur
Militiamen assaulted a number of displaced people who had returned to an area in Bielel locality last week, which is considered to be their home area. Five people were seriously wounded. The militiamen beat and stabbed an unknown number of people. In total, 600 displaced people had left Kalma, Dereig and El Salam camps in South Darfur to return to Marla in Bielel locality. One of the injured people told Radio Dabanga that “militant tribal members” attacked them after arriving to the area on Tuesday February 13. “They beat us with rifle butts and robbed us of our possessions. “The militia members told us that our return here is not welcomed,” the victim said. Reports vary whether the majority of the people have returned to the camps or were able to stay in Marla.
Early January, Radio Dabanga received reports from other returning displaced people in South Darfur that a paramilitary force prevented them from leaving again. About 300 displaced people had returned from the Shangil Tobaya camps in Tawila locality to their home villages in El Malam in northern South Darfur. When they discovered that militiamen and other gunmen are still roaming in the area, dozens of them decided to return to the relative safety of the camps. Paramilitary troops, however, prevented them from leaving.
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.
• Attack injures five South Darfur farmers | Radio Dabanga, September 8, 2017 | KASS
Five residents in Kass, South Darfur, were injured in an attack by camel herders on Wednesday. According to the residents in Krukuli village, the reason for the attack was that the farmers refused to let the herders’ camels graze on their farms. “After they threatened the farmers, the camel herders attacked the farmers with sticks and injured five of them.” A farmer in Krukuli said that the incident followed the announcement of the Sudanese government to collect weapons in Shattaya.
Krukuli village is one of the villages where about 27 families returned after the reconciliation and coexistence conference that was held in Shattaya last year.
• 14 militiamen arrested for attacking South Darfur returnees | Radio Dabanga, March 1, 2018 | BIELEL LOCALITY, South Darfur
The South Darfur state government says it has arrested 14 tribal militia leaders accused of attacking displaced people who had returned to Marla village in Bielel locality two weeks ago. A number of displaced people who had returned to Marla were attacked by militiamen. Five were seriously wounded. The militiamen beat and stabbed an unknown number of people.
In total, 600 displaced people had left Kalma, Dereig, and El Salam camps in South Darfur to return to Marla in Bielel locality.
One of the injured told Radio Dabanga that “militant tribal members” attacked them after arriving in the area on February 13. “They beat us with rifle butts and robbed us of our possessions. “The militia members told us that our return here is not welcomed,” the victim said. Reports vary whether the majority of the people have returned to the camps or were able to stay in Marla.
Reports indicate that more than 16 villages of voluntary repatriation have been subjected to attacks by militia, which refuse the return of the displaced to their lands and homes.
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.
Early January, Radio Dabanga received reports from other returning displaced people in South Darfur that a paramilitary force prevented them from leaving again. About 300 displaced people had returned from the Shangil Tobaya camps in Tawila locality to their home villages in El Malam in northern South Darfur. When they discovered that militiamen and other gunmen are still roaming in the area, dozens of them decided to return to the relative safety of the camps. Paramilitary troops, however, prevented them from leaving.
[It is increasingly common for Khartoum’s officials in Darfur to use militia forces, primarily the RSF, to keep “returnees” from changing their minds and returning to the “relative safety of the camps”—ER]
• Darfur returnees forced to remain in insecure area | Radio Dabanga, January 1, 2018 | EL MALAM, South Darfur
On Thursday, members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Sudan’s main government militia, prevented dozens of formerly displaced South Darfur villagers to flee again. Two weeks ago, about 300 people returned from the Shangil Tobaya camps for the displaced in Tawila locality to their home villages in the area of El Malam in northern South Darfur. When they discovered that militiamen and other gunmen are still roaming in the area, dozens of them decided to return to the relative safety of the camps. RSF troops, however, prevented them from leaving, and detained four village sheikhs who protested their action.
“Ismail Azhari, Yagoub Younis, Adam Hamid, and Adam Suleiman are now being held at the prison of El Malam,” a returnee told Radio Dabanga from the town. “The South Darfur governor will decided on their fate, as well as the fate of 71 villagers who were prevented from leaving.”
The source said that the area of El Malam is “devoid of any security.”
• Gunmen expel farmers from their lands in North Darfur | Radio Dabanga, June 25, 2017 | TAWILA, North Darfur
In Tawila locality in North Darfur, a number of villagers and displaced people have been expelled from their farms by gunmen in the area. “We were cultivating our farms in the area of Gallab, when Shattiya Arab gunmen stormed the land, and chased us away at gunpoint,” a farmer told Radio Dabanga. “They said that the land belonged to them, and threatened to kill us if we would return.”
The farmer added that the same happened in Kolgi.
Perception of Returns on the part of the Displaced: All too well informed
• South Darfur displaced to UN delegation: “We refuse to return” | Radio Dabanga, March 15, 2017 | KASS, South Darfur
The leaders of the displaced people of Kass locality in South Darfur have reiterated their refusal to return to their areas of origin under the current security climate.
In a meeting with a UN delegation on Monday, they endorsed their conditions for return which include the provision of security, disarmament of the militias, and the expulsion of new settlers from their lands. The head Sheikh Abdelrahman Abdullah of Kass camps told Radio Dabanga that a delegation from the UN met on Monday with about 83 of the sheikhs of Kass camps and told them that the visit comes within the framework to identify and stand on the security and humanitarian conditions for the displaced persons, as well as voluntary return programme.
[The UN has yet to demonstrate that it understands fully enough the challenges of returns in the context of continuing extreme levels of insecurity in Darfur—ER]
• Darfur displaced: “We cannot return as long as our land is occupied” | Radio Dabanga, April 9, 2018 | KALMA CAMP
Last week, the residents of Kalma camp in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, briefed a US government delegation about the situation of the displaced in the region and the reasons why they still cannot return to their areas of origin. “The American delegation met with the camp administration in the presence of the deputy director of UNAMID in South Darfur,” Yagoub Abdallah, the general coordinator of the Darfur Displaced and Refugees Association told Radio Dabanga.
“The US representatives inquired about the voluntary repatriation programme, whether people had returned already, and as well about the reasons preventing the displaced from returning to their villages,” he reported.
The displaced told the delegation that only a small number of people returned to their areas last year and early this year. “But they soon returned to the camp because of the aggression they met from militiamen and new settlers.”
[This perspective seems not to have penetrated the thinking of much of the international community—ER]
“We explained the American visitors that apart from the insecurity still caused by the many militiamen in the region, the presence of new, armed settlers is preventing the displaced to return to their villages. “The new settlers, consisting of Arab herders from Darfur or migrants from Chad or Niger, are occupying our lands with the support of the authorities,” the camp leader said. “These settlers assault anyone who tries to return to their village.” The displaced further told the American delegation that the government is still continuing its war against the Darfuris. “Government militiamen are now burning villages in Jebel Marra.”
• North Darfur displaced clear: No safety, no return | Radio Dabanga, May 23, 2017 | TAWILA
The message of displaced people in Darfur’s camps to the international community remains the same: they refuse to voluntarily return home. A delegation of the United Nations Security Council discussed humanitarian and security issues in North Darfur camps on Sunday.
Representatives of the displaced community in Tawila locality called for the disarmament of militias, the expulsion of new settlers in the home areas of displaced people, and the provision of security in these areas, during the meeting with the UN delegation.
Omda Mukhtar Bosh told Radio Dabanga that the delegation from the UN Security Council met with around 50 representatives of the camps in Tawila camps, as well as youth and women. “Under discussion were the security situation, the voluntary return and the humanitarian situation in the camps. “We assured the delegation that there was no security outside the camps and that the displaced people are subjected to killing, rape, and theft when they go out to collect firewood, straw, or do shopping.”
Reasons for camp residents to refuse to participate in voluntary return programmes by the Sudanese government mostly involve the worsened security situation in their home areas, where militias roam or unknown people have settled on their lands.
The camp representatives explained that the displaced people are affected by the reduction in food rations by humanitarian organisations. The food security has deteriorated with the absence of jobs and deprivation of their daily activities of farming and cattle grazing, which is regularly impeded by armed members of militias.
[As food shortages spread throughout Sudan, they are hitting especially hard in the IDP camps and among other IDP populations in Darfur and eastern Chad—ER]
• “Militiamen living in our villages, using our lands”: Darfuri displaced | Radio Dabanga, April 17, 2017 | BELEIL / ZALINGEI
The continued announcements of the Sudanese government and the recent declaration of the US military attaché in Khartoum about the improved security situation in the region are “false propaganda”, according to the displaced people in Darfur. “These statements about security in Darfur have no basis in reality,” Hussein Abu Sharati, the spokesman for the Darfur Displaced and Refugees Association, commented to Radio Dabanga.
“In terms of security and stability, the situation in Darfur is now more serious than three years ago. As the region is currently under the control of those who fought alongside government forces against the people, and chased them from their villages. The government rewarded them by letting them occupy our lands.”
Abu Sharati explained that the displaced and refugees do not refuse to return voluntarily. “On the contrary, they are longing to return to their places of origin. It is imperative however, to achieve a comprehensive peace, to restore security, disarm the militias, expel the militiamen and their families from the occupied lands, and bring those who have committed crimes against civilians in Darfur to justice. “Otherwise, we have nothing to do with any re-planning of camps, nor with the so-called voluntary return as it is promoted by the government,” he added.
According to El Shafee Abdallah, Coordinator of the Central Darfur camps and one of the members of the Darfur Camps Coordination Committee, the government’s announcement of security in Darfur and the possibility for the displaced people in the camps to return to their villages is “baseless propaganda. “The lands and villages of the displaced people are currently occupied by militiamen, from the region or neighbouring countries, who are allied with the government,” he said. “They daily prevent the displaced from leaving the camps to collect firewood and straw, let alone to return to their villages.” He explained that “The government aims to keep the displaced people where they are, after a so-called re-planning of the camps.
“If the camp areas are annexed to the towns and the displaced registered as town residents, they will deprived from the possibility to reclaim their land. Thus the way to legalising the new settlers’ ownership of our lands will be paved.” “That is why the displaced people will never accept the re-planning of the camps and their integration into the towns,” he said.
[This particular feature of the broader issue of land ownership has been of concern to displaced Darfuris for years—ER]
• “No voluntary return in insecure Darfur”: displaced to US | Radio Dabanga, April 25, 2017 | EL FASHER, North Darfur
People in Zamzam camp for displaced people in North Darfur complained that the security and humanitarian situation in the camp is very bad. They told a United States envoy that militiamen occupy their home farms; voluntary return is out of the question. A delegation from the office of the US Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Paul Steven, arrived at Zamzam, south of El Fasher, to meet with Sheikhs, leaders and youth and women representatives. Zamzam is one of the largest camps in Darfur.
The security situation in the vicinity of Zamzam is very bad, youth and women representatives said. Armed men and militia members attack people who go outside. Meanwhile residents have witnessed a reduction of the food ration cards and a deterioration of the health situation.
• Displaced Association rejects Sudan’s voluntary return plans | Radio Dabanga, February 6, 2018 | CENTRAL DARFUR
The Darfur Refugees and Displaced People’s Association has rejected the voluntary return plans for displaced people by the state government and several native administrations in Central Darfur. Hussein Abusharati, the spokesman for the Association, told Radio Dabanga that voluntary return depends on fundamental issues including comprehensive peace, expulsion of armed groups who have settled in the places where displaced people would return to, the reconstruction of these areas as far as possible, and the provision of basic services of life such as water, hospitals and schools. In addition, he said that there needs to be compensation to the victims, and militias in Darfur should be completely disarmed.
“But the new settlers object to the return of the displaced to their old lands, where they live now.” He pointed to a visit of a community leader, named Omda Hashim, to Kobong – an area now occupied by new settlers. According to Abusharati, “forcing the displaced people to return to 15 villages in the area and imposing levies on them to pay for their return, is considered a form of despotism.”
The government is seeking to empty camps in Darfur and make about 2.7 million displaced people voluntarily return. Khartoum plans the camps to become part of the cities and towns, or to voluntarily return the displaced people to their areas of origin.
[Vacuous promises by a morally and financially bankrupt Khartoum regime are utterly meaningless: the only ambition is to empty and dismantle the IDP camps, whatever the consequences for the displaced persons in them—ER]
UNHCR also organised visits to villages for voluntary returnees in Darfur for Sudanese people who have been living in refugee camps in Chad. In December last year, the UNHCR reported that more than 4,000 Chadian refugees in Central Darfur started their voluntary return home after more than ten years in a Darfur refugee camp. A first group of approximately 301 Chadians have left Um Shalaya camp in Central Darfur for Moudeina in the Sila region of eastern Chad.
[UNHCR seems almost as eager as the Khartoum regime to see returns, despite the intolerable security conditions that keep more than 300,000 people in eastern Chad—people who know all too well what awaits them if they return to Darfur—ER]
• North Darfur displaced still reject return without security | Radio Dabanga, December 14, 2017 | EL FASHER / NYALA / CHAD
On Tuesday in a meeting between a delegation from Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission and the notables of Shadad and Naivasha camps in North Darfur, the displaced people refused the voluntary return programme and set out a package of conditions in order to do so, including the achievement of comprehensive peace, the prosecution of war and genocide criminals, and the provision of security and services.
On Tuesday a delegation from the humanitarian aid commission came from Nyala and held a meeting with sheikhs, camp leaders, youths and women union in which it proposed the return of displaced people from both camps and asked them about their return requirements. One of the Sheikhs explained that the delegation told them that these demands will not be achieved unless they return to their areas of origin.
[This issue is critical: if “returns” are to be to places other than areas of origin, it will be impossible for these displaced persons to know what resources will await them, and what degree of insecurity will continue. The displaced want a restitution of the lands that have been violently expropriated from them by Khartoum-backed Arab militias who are using these lands not for farming, but as pasturage for their camels and cattle—ER]
In eastern Chad, Sudanese refugees also declared their categorical refusal to return to their areas of origin without achieving comprehensive peace, prosecuting war and genocide criminals, compensations and provision of security and services. They pointed out that these requirements are not on the ground and the government is unwilling to provide them.
• Central Darfur displaced reject land re-zoning | Radio Dabanga, April 13, 2017 | GARSILA
The residents of Arula of Garsila locality in Central Darfur, who fled to Garsila camps in 2003 because of the war, have refused a local committee’s decision to build public facilities at Arula and compensating them with alternative housing. Yesterday one of the sheikhs told Radio Dabanga from that the displaced have refused a decision to remove their residential land and return voluntarily because of insecurity.
They called on Shartai Ismaili Mohammad Bashar and his local committee to build schools, hospitals and police stations on their original sites, not in the places instead of on their land.
They also demanded from the local and state authorities to intervene immediately to stop this rejected decision. In Khartoum, the Governor of South Darfur announced the transformation of camp El Salam which accommodates 150,000 displaced people, to El Salam city as part of the government plan for the camps.
[This is often the extent of Khartoum’s “planning” for those displaced: turn their IDP camps into “cities.” But these would be “cities” without employment opportunities, indeed without any of the resources with which to re-build lives. A mere declaration that an IDP camp has become a “city” does nothing to address the key issues caused by fifteen years of genocidal violence and displacement. It is important to note again how little in the way of resources the Khartoum regime devotes to the non-military/non-security sectors in the 2018 budget: there simply aren’t the resources to begin to fulfill the obscenely disingenuous plans of the regime, even if we could credit génocidaires with good will—ER]
The Governor of South Darfur, El Faki said after a meeting with the First Vice President and the Prime Minister Bakri Hassan Saleh in Khartoum that the process of voluntary return in South Darfur has begun in more than 15 villages without interference from the government. The Prime Minister stressed the importance of planning the camps and enhancing the process of voluntary return for peace and stability in South Darfur. The Commissioner of Um Baru, Ahmed Mohammed El Taher announced the return of 40,000 refugees and displaced persons to their places of origin.
[The figure of “40,000” displaced persons returned to their places of origin has no basis whatsoever in fact, and is simply an absurdly implausible fiction, belied by all available evidence. South Darfur Governor El Faki is a particularly well-known and shameless liar—ER]
• Two West Darfur camps oppose dismantling | Radio Dabanga, February 16, 2018 | SIRBA, West Darfur
The West Darfur state government’s plans to dismantle two camps for displaced people in Sirba locality, and resettle them in another location, has been met with rejection by the camp coordinators. Camp coordinators of Kendebe and Bir Dagig camps said in a statement to the press that the plan to dismantle the camps includes a transfer of the displaced people to Goz Sigeit, west of Kendebe. Bir Dagig was home to 3,500 displaced people in 2013, according to information of the United Nations humanitarian affairs’ office (OHCA) at the time. The coordinators appealed in their statement to the United Nations, the UN Security Council and the international and regional community to intervene in the plans and rescue the displaced people in the camps from being transferred elsewhere.
Also the South Darfur government 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.
The federal government is seeking to empty or abolish camps in Darfur and has given the people three options for this. The first plan embodies the voluntary return of the about 2.7 million people who have been displaced by the conflict that erupted in 2003, to their home areas. Additionally, states in Darfur plan for the transformation of the camps into residential areas, or to make camps integrate into existing cities and towns.
That woefully inadequate security defines Darfur is insufficiently acknowledged, thereby helping Khartoum
Khartoum trivializes insecurity in Darfur, as it has for years. Despite this expedient mendacity, however, the realities of continuing violence and unconstrained assaults on non-Arab/African civilians are acknowledged in at least some quarters:
• US envoy: Insecurity in Darfur prevents return of displaced | Radio Dabanga, June 19, 2017 | EL FASHER, North Darfur
According to the US charge d’affaires in Sudan, the security situation in Darfur forms an obstacle for people who want to return home. Charge d’affaires Steven Koutsis, heading a delegation including the political and economic advisers at the US Embassy in Khartoum and a USAID representative, arrived in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, on Sunday for a three-day visit to the region. After meeting with North Darfur Deputy Governor Mohamed Breima, the US diplomat said in a joint press conference that the displaced wishing to return need to be confident that the authorities are able to protect them from militia attacks.
Breima stated that North Darfur is almost free of rebels. He cited a great improvement in the security and humanitarian situation, and pointed to his government’s plan to support displaced who voluntarily want to return to their places of origin.
[Utterly shameless lies—ER]
But the realities of violence in Darfur, what keeps the displaced from returning, continue to be reported on a daily basis:
• Border Guards kidnap six people in South Darfur | Radio Dabanga, April 23, 2018 | KASS, South Darfur
Members of the paramilitary Border Guards abducted six people from Turr in South Darfur’s Kass locality on Saturday. They demand a ransom of SDG 1,500,000. Multiple sources told Radio Dabanga that elements of the Border Guards on camels and horses kidnapped Muhyeldin Ibrahim, headmaster of the Turr School, Mohamed Adam, school janitor, Feisal Ishag, Ahmed Yousef, Abdeljabbar Abulgasim and Abdelnashir Yousef near Turr, and took them to an unknown destination.
• Militiamen plunder, burn 13 villages in Darfur’s Jebel Marra | Radio Dabanga, April 23, 2018 | JEBEL MARRA
At least 30,000 people fled their homes during attacks by large groups of militiamen on their villages in northern Jebel Marra on Thursday and Friday. The villagers fled towards Rokoro, according to statements of the Sudan Liberation Movement under the leadership of Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW) on Friday and Saturday. After plundering the villages, the attackers set the houses on fire. The newly displaced are in dire need of aid, the SLM-AW stated. On Sunday, the rebel movement reported fierce fighting between its combatants and government forces in the area of Jaldo in northern Jebel Marra.
[The figure of some three million displaced people is relatively constant, but while some may return to their homes, just as many are newly displaced—often for the second, third, or even fourth time—ER]
• More militia raids on Kutum villages | Radio Dabanga, June 6, 2017 | KUTUM
Several villages in Kutum, North Darfur, witnessed raids by militiamen on Sunday. President Al Bashir called for “guarding peace in the state by force.” Militiamen opened fire into the air before they stormed Deleba El Kabir and Deleba El Saghir in western Kutum on motorcycles and camels. Sources in the area told this station that the attackers stole money, property and livestock from villagers.
An unknown number of villagers arrived in Abdel Shakur, located north, while others fled to the nearby mountains and valleys. Reports of casualty numbers and the total amount of stolen property have not yet been verified. Recent fighting between government and rebel forces at the end of May has caused insecurity in the locality, and villages in the vicinity of Ein Siro were raided by militiamen. The announcement of the Governor of North Darfur that the area was safe to return to last week, led to various assaults on returning villagers facing militiamen who were still roaming the area.
[Lies by regime officials concerning security in the various regions of Darfur only make displaced persons more wary of returns—ER]
• Influx of newly displaced families to Kutum camps | Radio Dabanga, June 20, 2017 | KUTUM
Hundreds of displaced families arrived from Ein Siro, the scene of recent military confrontations, in a camp in Kutum locality. The camp is marked by insecurity and a bad humanitarian situation, a camp leader said. Displaced people in Kassab camp in North Darfur confirmed the difficulty of the security and humanitarian situation, in addition to a lack of education and health services. The head of the camp, Sheikh El Tahir Ismail, told Radio Dabanga that a delegation from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) talked with camp representatives about the security, food, health, education and water issues. “We told them that the security situation is not settled, especially after the incidents in Ein Siro. From the start of the fighting until now, we have received 373 new displaced families, amounting to 1,428 people.” Ismail said he expected more new displaced people to arrive from Ein Siro.
Military confrontations with armed movements were reported in Ein Siro, in northwest Kutum, starting 28 May. Areas affected by such attacks were Marla, Muzbad, Um Baru, Adoala and Arori and other areas of Karnoi locality. There are reports of arrests and forced disappearance of large numbers of civilians in these areas arrested under the pretext of communicating with the armed movements, according to a Darfur-focused documentation centre.
As one of the village elders reported to Radio Dabanga following the attack on Ein Siro, after having fled to the mountains with villagers, residents of the dozens of small villages were unable to return as militiamen “were still deployed in the area. […] We are watching them pillaging, from the mountains.”
Sheikh Ismail said that they explained to the OCHA delegation that a reduction of the food rations by half has negatively impacted the lives of the displaced people. “The reduction impacts the work opportunities for camp residents. “They may be subject to attacks when venturing out of the camp to collect straw and firewood. Also, the people face a water shortage after one of the organisations withdrew and water management was transferred to the displaced people.”
[Shortfalls in humanitarian capacity and delivery; obstruction of humanitarian work by Khartoum and its militia allies; and general hardships facing displaced persons are no longer reported by the UN—but they are hitting hard and taking a great toll—ER]
This caused the continued non-operation of 24 out of 28 water pumps, Ismail claimed, because the camp residents are unable to provide money for the maintenance.
[Given such shortages in the camps, we must regard with the most extreme skepticism the Khartoum regime’s promises to convert camps for the displaced into “cities” (see below)—ER]
• Government forces attack villagers in Central Darfur | Radio Dabanga, March 5, 2018 | NIERTETI
Two Central Darfur villagers were wounded by militiamen in separate incidents over the weekend. Three members of the Rapid Support Forces, Sudan’s main militia, intercepted Abdallah Mousa in Tur in Nierteti locality on Saturday. “Abdallah was on his way home after a visit to the market of Tur, when he was attacked,” a relative told Radio Dabanga. “They stripped him of his clothes, beat him severely, and then seized his donkey and the goods he had bought.”
The source added that on Sunday, another villager was injured in Nierteti on Sunday. “Three militiamen of the Border Guards ambushed Mousa Abdelkarim while he was returning to his village after collecting firewood,” he said. “They severely beat him. He had to be transferred to the hospital of Nierteti with a broken hand and head injuries.” The incident was reported to the police in Nierteti.
• Ten people killed in attack, clash in South Darfur village | Radio Dabanga, September 15, 2017 | EL SALAM, South Darfur
Ten people were killed and eleven were wounded in the village of Tombassi in El Salam locality on Wednesday, in a clash that involved paramilitary forces. In southern Libya, four Sudanese were killed by gunmen. Members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by a colonel called Um Jalumba, attacked Tombassi on Wednesday. Two villagers were killed while other people were wounded, a witness told Radio Dabanga yesterday.
Soon after a group of villagers set out to chase the perpetrators. “But they ambushed the group and killed seven of them, and others were seriously injured. One RSF member was killed in the clash,” the witness said. The attack on Tombassi allegedly came against the backdrop of the commander of the RSF, Col. Um Jalumba, who asked to marry a girl in Tembassi. “But the girl refused to marry him because she wanted to marry someone else in the village,” a source told this station.
“The colonel arrived at the market of Tombassi on Sunday and attempted to kidnap the person the girl wanted to marry with. Villagers foiled the attempt. But the colonel returned with members of the RSF on Wednesday to attack the village.”
• Herders attack South Darfur farmers, kill five | Radio Dabanga, July 24, 2017 | NYALA, South Darfur
Militant herders shot five South Darfur displaced farmers dead and wounded nine others south-east of the South Darfur capital of Nyala on Saturday. Two women were attacked on their farm near Zalingei in Central Darfur. “The problems started when Arab camel herders took an injured woman of their tribe to the police on Friday, filed a complaint against the people of Hejeir Tono, and then transported her to the Nyala Teaching Hospital,” the deputy omda of the village told Dabanga Radio.
“The women fell off her camel when the farmers were trying to chase camels from their land near Hejeir Tono village,” Sheikh Abakar Rahma explained. He said that the Abbala tribesmen demanded from the villagers to hand the attacker of the woman. “We told them several times that we do not know the culprit, but they did not believe us. The next day, without any warning, large numbers of militant Abbala on camels and horses entered the farms of the village and began shooting around them.
He said that many of the villagers who recently returned from the Kalma and El Salam camps for the displaced in the South Darfur capital, fled to the camps again.
Saleh Abdallah, Secretary-general of Kalma camp told this station that on Sunday 120 families from Hejeir Tono, about 25 km from Nyala, arrived to the camp on foot and on carts. “Now they are staying at Block 8 without any food or shelter,” he said.
Two women farmers sustained bullet wounds in an attack by gunmen on their farm near Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur, on Saturday. The coordinator of the Central Darfur camps for the displaced, El Shafee Abdallah, told this station that a group of gunmen on horses shot displaced women farmers Najwa El Nour and Maryam Ahmed Eisa. They were taken to the Zalingei Teaching Hospital after the incident was reported to the police. The coordinator called on UNAMID to conduct daily patrols “to provide the least protection for the displaced persons inside and outside the camps.”
• “Rapid Support Forces attacked civilians in Darfur”: African Centre | Radio Dabanga, June 25, 2017 | NEW YORK
Between 28 May and 15 June, members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and other government sponsored militias targeted people in North and Central Darfur.
The attacks took place from 28 May – 6 June 2017 in the area of Ein Siro in North Darfur, on 14-15 June in Tur and Nierteti in southern Jebel Marra. At least 35,000 people were displaced, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) states in a report on Thursday.
The attacks came after fighting broke out between the RSF, Sudan’s largest militia that stands under command of President Al Bashir since January this year, and Darfuri rebel groups. However, there is no rebel presence in any of the villages attacked, ACJPS confirmed. Dozens of villagers were killed and others were injured in the attacks. In southern Jebel Marra, ten women were abducted from Tur on 14 June and seven men were abducted from Nierteti the next day.
At 6 am on 28 May, an unidentified government militia and the RSF in more than one hundred vehicles attacked a number of villages in the area of Ein Siro locality. At least 12 people were killed and ten were injured. The following day, seven villages in Ein Siro, including Farang, Furokat, and Abdelshakour, were set on fire by members of the RSF and other militiamen on motorcycles and camels. They plundered markets and homes, and seized the livestock in 17 villages.
According to ACJPS, the entire population of the 50 villages of Ein Siro, roughly 30,000 people, have been reportedly displaced to Kutum and the surrounding mountains.
The Centre reports that at least 5,000 people were displaced by attacks by the RSF and an unidentified government sponsored militia on Tur and Nierteti on 14 and 15 June. On 14 June, the village of Tur was raided and plundered. Three men were killed, and ten women were abducted. The women’s whereabouts are still unknown, ACJPS states. On 15 June, a joint force of RSF, Border Guards, and militiamen riding horses and camels attacked six villages in Rokoro. They plundered the markets and homes, and seized the livestock in the area. Later that day, the same militiamen attacked the area of Nierteti area, and abducted seven men.
In 2015 the UN Panel of Experts on Sudan characterized Khartoum’s strategy in Darfur as one of “collective punishment” and “induced or forced displacement” of communities from which the armed opposition groups are believed to come or operate. The majority of people in Ein Siro belong to the Zaghawa tribe, while Jebel Marra is mainly populated by the Fur. Both have been “particularly targeted by the Sudanese government since the outbreak of the conflict in 2003.”
As for Sudan’s largest militia, “the RSF now functions as a regular force of the Government of Sudan, following the passage of the 2016 Rapid Support Forces Act, which integrates the RSF into the armed forces of the country, and provides for the commander of the RSF to be appointed by the President. The RSF has led a number of brutal counterinsurgency campaigns, supported by aerial bombardment, against civilian populations since their creation in mid-2013.”
In its report, the African Centre as well points to the “millions of Euros” the EU is providing Sudan “to combat migration flows from the Horn of Africa to Europe. “These funds are likely to trickle down to Sudanese forces such as the RSF through the Government of Sudan’s administration of the fund, and be used for small arms and weapons,” ACJPS warns.
[Recent news dispatches have confirmed this concern of the African Centre—ER]
Assaults on IDP Camps
The camps for displaced persons are themselves increasingly becoming targets of violence; Kalma camp near Nyala has been a particular focus for murderous assaults for years—see my account of the August 2008 attack that left scores dead and wounded | https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB122065894281205691 . The goal is clearly to force camp residents to leave, making the emptying and dismantling of the camps—Khartoum’s announced goal—all the easier.
• Militia “show of force” causes panic in South Darfur’s Kalma camp | Radio Dabanga, September 6, 2017 | KALMA CAMP
The residents of Kalma camp for the displaced in the South Darfur capital of Nyala are reportedly in a state of panic after a group of militiamen entered the camp in heavily armed vehicles on Monday morning. Yagoub Abdallah Furi, the General Coordinator of displaced and refugees camps, told Radio Dabanga from Kalma camp that the incursion by armed men with heavy weapons caused panic among the camp residents. He called on UNAMID to protect the camp from the “terrorist tactics” of the militants.
Furi said the armed group which included Land Cruisers mounted with ‘dushka’ machine guns drove several blocks into the centre of the camp. The vehicles later left. He warned the government against “the consequences of terrorising the displaced persons in the camps by the use of a military show of force.” He considered this as an indication of the government’s attempt to dismantle the camps.
Furi accused the government of earlier “sending undercover security agents in civilian clothes to camps for the displaced in Darfur to identify the homes of the leaders in order to eliminate or assassinate them… the security agents fled the camp after the disclosure of their plan”.
Furi’s statement says the return of displaced to their villages is conditional to disarming militias, expelling the settlers, bringing the perpetrators to justice and individual and collective compensation for those affected by the war.
[Camps for the displaced have frequently been the targets of extremely violent assaults, increasingly with the clear goal of forcing people to leave them. The tactics by which the Khartoum regime intends to end its “displacement problem” are various, but they all have the common goal of removing the justification for an international humanitarian presence—ER]
• Gunmen threaten to torch South Darfur camp | Radio Dabanga, May 3, 2017 | MERSHING, south Darfur
Militants have threatened to storm and torch Keila Camp in Mershing locality in South Darfur unless the inhabitants pay compensation for livestock the gunmen claim to have lost.
One of the displaced residents of the camp told Radio Dabanga that they sought help of the locality police, but the militants threatened the police and gave the displaced an ultimatum until Saturday to return 40 cattle or the cash equivalent, or they would pillage and burn the camp.
On Tuesday militants broke into Kushina basic school south Tawila in North Darfur. Omda Bosh told Radio Dabanga that militants on two Land Cruisers mounted with a Dushka machine gun 10 am on Tuesday, seized school equipment, chairs, cupboards and other school objects including doors from the headmaster and teachers’ offices and the storehouse, loaded them into a lorry headed towards Kabkabiya.
• Militiamen surround Central Darfur camp, shoot student | Radio Dabanga, August 27, 2017 | NIERTETI
A university student was shot at Nierteti’s Northern Camp in Central Darfur on Thursday.
Speaking to Radio Dabanga, a camp elder reported that militiamen began firing into the air over the Northern Nierteti Camp for the displaced on Thursday evening. “Abdelwahab Hasan Hamid was seriously hit by bullets, and had to be taken to Nyala for treatment,” he said. The elder said that a large group of militants in vehicles and on motorcycles and horses began gathering north and west of the Nierteti Northern Camp since Sunday, after one of their colleagues went missing in the area.
They threatened to burn the Nierteti market and the camp if the missing man would not be returned.
“The growing number of militants near the camp prevented the displaced from leaving the camp to tend their farms, especially in the areas of Kibe and Khor Ramla,” the camp elder added.
• “Four shot dead in Central Darfur camp protests”: Coordinator | Radio Dabanga, January 22, 2018 | ZALINGEI
Four people were reportedly killed and 44 others injured over the weekend when security forces shot at protesters in the Hasahisa camp in Zalingei in Central Darfur. According to the Commissioner of Zalingei, only one camp resident was killed, in a clash with the police.
“The problems started after a group of militiamen raided the Hasahisa camp market on Friday,” El Shafee Abdallah, Coordinator of the Central Darfur camps for the displaced told Radio Dabanga.
“Security forces and militiamen responded to the march by shooting at the crowd. Abdelshafee Ishag Eisa and Sheima Abdeljabbar were fatally hit. 29 others were injured. On Saturday morning, members of the militia set fire to the engines supplying water from Wadi Azum to the camp, which led the people to protest again. “This time, Adam Rahma Abdallah and Abdallah Jibril Abakar were shot dead. 15 other protesters sustained bullet wounds.” The camp coordinator described the situation in the camp on Sunday as “very tense.” Militiamen and security forces are still stationed near the camp.
• South Darfur camp protest turns deadly, UNAMID calls for restraint | Radio Dabanga, September 22, 2017 | NYALA, South Darfur
(UPDATE 17:20) Reportedly five people died in protests against a visit of the Sudanese president near Kalma camp in South Darfur. The African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur is treating the wounded. The Kalma camp coordinator released a statement earlier today reporting that five people were killed this morning, and 26 people sustained injuries. The coordinator provided the names of the deceased and said that the wounded are being treated in the UNAMID base in the camp. At least three people were killed and approximately 26 people were wounded, according to the UNAMID peacekeeping mission in a press statement received by Radio Dabanga.
The deadly incident occurred this morning after forces of the Sudanese government dispersed a group of displaced people who were protesting against the visit of the Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir to South Darfur.
Al Bashir addressed a mass public rally in Nyala yesterday, where he spoke of the return of the displaced to their villages of origin, and encouraged the state to develop formal housing for those who are eligible.
Khartoum uses other means to force people to leave the camps, including the denial of humanitarian resources.
• Darfur displaced “under pressure” from health issues, plans to dismantle camps | Radio Dabanga, May 9, 2017 | DARFUR / ZALINGEI
Displaced people in camps in Darfur feel they are facing pressure to leave the camps while health issues continue to emerge. The government is preparing plans to dismantle the camps.
Yesterday, community elders from various camps reported to Radio Dabanga that the camps witness the spread of diabetes, blood pressure issues and mental illnesses among camp residents. They said these are caused “by the horrors of war, the living conditions and the economic crisis.”
He called on the humanitarian authorities and organisations to provide health care and the necessary medical and psychological support, especially to the patients. Continued announcements of the Sudanese government and the recent declaration of the US military attaché in Khartoum about the improved security situation in the region are signs of a campaign to increase the numbers of voluntary returnees from the camps to their areas of origin. While the majority of displaced long to return, reports of militiamen with their families occupying the abandoned villages and farms continue to emerge.
Meanwhile people in Zalingei, Central Darfur, are witnessing an increase in medicine prices, poor medical services, poor hospital environment, and a lack of life-saving medicines in the emergency sections. Yesterday one of the residents told Radio Dabanga that no maintenance is done in the city’s hospital, and dirty wards, toilets, and broken fans cause mosquitoes to breed. “Patients in the hospital suffer from their disease, but also the lack of medicine and high prices in the pharmacies.”
Khartoum Declares What is Not So—and finds plenty of international support
Amidst the lies about security in Darfur and gross misrepresentations of returning persons, there is perhaps one truth from Khartoum that we should be fully persuaded of:
South Darfur governor Adam El Faki warned that 2018 will be the last year in which the displaced in Darfur have three options concerning their new residences: Either to integrate in new housing projects, in newly-built towns, or to return to their villages of origin. (Large-scale resettlement reported in West Darfur, Radio Dabanga, April 19, 2018 | EL GENEINA)
Since “return to their villages of origin” is impossible because of the extreme levels of insecurity represented in the dispatches above, this becomes an ultimatum to choose between “newly built towns” (an utterly preposterous notion, given the 3 million people who would need to be provided housing and the rudiments of making a living) and non-existent “housing projects,” which are as wildly unfeasible as new towns accommodating the 3 million displaced persons.
Here again we must remember that the Sudanese economy is a complete shambles, with rampant shortages of bread, cooking fuel, and clean water. The lack of Foreign Exchange Currency makes most imports impossible, even for critical commodities such as wheat (for bread), refined petroleum products (for cooking, transportation, water-pumping), and basic but essential medicines. There are no resources that might begin to make possible resettlement of the displaced in Darfur on a scale that the regime nonetheless insists upon, let alone the restitution of lands violently expropriated—the essential element of any true peace in Darfur.
The absurd claims that Khartoum endlessly regurgitates about Darfur reveal only the desperation of a regime that is bankrupt in all ways, and can respond to the Darfur catastrophe only with vacuous words and promises. That so much of this propaganda is credited by the UN and other international actors only adds to the shame of allowing the Darfur genocide to continue for 15 years.
• Sudan’s Vice President says IDPs returning to their villages in Darfur | Sudan Tribune, February 21, 2018 (KHARTOUM)
Sudan’s Vice-President Hassabo Abdel-Rahman said large numbers of refugees and internally displaced Persons (IDPs) have returned to their areas of origin following the improvement of security situation in Darfur. Abdel-Rahman, who chaired a meeting of the Darfur voluntary return committee on Tuesday, pointed to the need to accelerate the provision of the basic services at the voluntary return villages. He called on the committee to coordinate with the governors of Darfur’s five states and the Darfur Commission for Voluntary Return to provide these services.
In a report released on 5 February, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) estimates there are about 386,000 returnees in Sudan conflict areas including Darfur and the Two Areas.
[The very precision of this figure from OCHA makes it suspicious, as does the lack on any clear definition of who constitutes a “returnee” and what the geographic breakdown is. More basically it must be asked, “Where are there ‘returnees’ in Darfur? Who counted them? How was the counting done in areas that are too insecure for assessment?” This figure is dubious in the extreme—ER]
• “Gireida camps to be closed”: South Darfur governor | Radio Dabanga, April 24, 2017 | GIREIDA, South Darfur
The Governor of South Darfur has given the residents of the Gireida camps the choice between accepting the annexation of the camp sites to the town or returning voluntarily to their places of origin. In a public meeting in Gireida, Governor Adam El Faki told the displaced people that the more than ten camps may be added to the existing residential districts or they may become new districts in the town.
In both instances, the displaced people will not be entitled any more to humanitarian aid.
[This is the key reason for the removal of camps as camps: if they are part of an urban configuration, however untenable, it becomes possible for Khartoum to end the presence of international humanitarian assistance, something it has been attempting for years—ER]
The camp residents strongly rejected the options, for legal and security reasons. “Actually the annexation of the camp sites to Gireida town means the legitimisation of the theft of our lands. In this case, the land ownership will be officially transferred to the new settlers and the government’s militiamen,” a camp elder told Radio Dabanga. “Yet, the people are also unable to return, because of the presence of militiamen in their villages and at their farms. They prevent us from returning to our lands for farming. Even when we leave the camp for a few kilometres to collect firewood or straw, they attack us. “So we can only return if the situation has become secure, and a comprehensive peace has been reached,” he said.
[The reasoning here is impeccable and yet the international community ignores it, settling instead for the meaningless provisions of the “Doha Document For Peace in Darfur,” long a dead letter, completely without the support of Darfuri civil society, and a diplomatic farce that has done nothing to address the root causes of war or the essential elements for peace in Darfur—ER]
• 5,000 displaced return to Turba, South Darfur | Radio Dabanga, January 3, 2018 | TURBA, South Darfur
The Second Vice-President of Sudan, Hassabo Abdulrahman accompanied by the Wali of South Darfur, Adam El Faki, and the Sultan of the Fur tribe, Ahmed Hussein Ayoub Ali Dinar, attended the voluntary return of 5,000 displaced people at Turba in El Wehda locality South Darfur on Sunday.
[There is absolutely no reason to credit Hassabo, but good reason to recall his comments about non-Arab/African Darfuris (as cited by Human Rights Watch), directly addressing several hundred army and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) soldiers (December 2014, the beginning of the “dry season campaign”):
“Hassabo told us to clear the area east of Jebel Marra. To kill any male. He said we want to clear the area of insects… He said East Jebel Marra is the kingdom of the rebels. We don’t want anyone there to be alive.” (Human Rights Watch, September 2015) ]
• Chad, Sudan to repatriate 20,000 refugees to Darfur in 2018 | Sudan Tribune, January 26, 2018 (KHARTOUM)
Sudan, Chad and the United Nations have signed an agreement for the repatriation of 20,000 Sudanese refugees from Chad to Darfur region during this year.
[Again, there is absolutely no reason to credit the figure of “20,000” Darfuri refugees to be repatriated this year; the figure is entirely arbitrary and does not reflect the clear and insistent fear of these refugees of a deeply insecure Darfur. The figure is designed only to convince the international community that these most forgotten people will be “dealt with.” See Darfur Refugees in Eastern Chad: The Most Invisible Casualties of the Darfur Genocide, August 8, 2017 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-25G —ER]
• Voluntary return commissioner visits 3 villages in West Darfur | Sudan Tribune, February 6, 2018 (KHARTOUM)
Darfur Commissioner for Voluntary Return, Taj al-din Ibrahim al-Tahir has visited three voluntary return villages in the locality of Habeela, West Darfur State. In a report released in October 2017, the UNOCHA said some 13,000 people have returned state from eastern Chad to West Darfur state.
[This figure may or may not be accurate; but what is notable is that in April 2018—last week—UNHCR confirmed that “some 300,000 refugees from Darfur” are still in camps in eastern Chad. This figure has fluctuated up or down (mainly up) only slightly for years. The scale of the problem is massive and the humanitarian conditions in the twelve refugee camps wholly inadequate—ER]
• Hundreds of IDPs return to South Darfur: official | Sudan Tribune, December 23, 2017 (NYALA)
Dozens of displaced families have returned voluntarily from North Darfur State to Al-Wihda County in South Darfur State, said county commissioner Mohamed Adam Jaber Jaber said more than 1046 families have returned from Shangil Tobaya in North Darfur to 15 villages in the Al-Wihda County, pointing the returnees became convinced that the security situation is stable following the imposition of the state authority.
[More figures that are mostly likely simply made up on instruction from Khartoum—ER]
• UN welcomes return of Sudanese refugees from CAR | Sudan Tribune, December 12, 2017 (KHARTOUM)
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday has welcomed the return of Sudanese refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR). There are about 3,500 Sudanese refugees from Darfur living in the north-east of the CAR since the eruption of an insurgency in the western Sudan region. Nearly 1,500 of them have decided to voluntarily return to Sudan.
[As impressive as this return is in some respects, in the context of 3 million remaining displaced persons, it is statistically insignificant; the massive problem of Darfur’s displaced is as massive as it was in 2009, when the figure for total displacement was also 3 million—ER]
• Growing numbers of IDPs return to Jebel Marra: official | Sudan Tribune, 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.
[A vague generalization made by wholly unreliable sources—ER]
According to the UNHCR, the first batch including 45 Sudanese refugees [presumably from eastern Chad?] arrived on Tuesday in Nyala, South Darfur capital where they were received by senior government officials and UNHCR staff. “The returnees will be hosted in a transit centre for up to 3 days in the capital of South Darfur State before proceeding to their village, some 350 kilometres from Nyala,” said the UNHCR in a press release on Tuesday. The returnees will have access to land and the UNHCR and the Sudanese government would provide return packages “to help the returnees re-establish their homes and livelihoods.” “UNHCR will also work with government authorities and other partners to enhance service provision in the return area,” read the press release.
[This statement by UNHCR is shockingly disingenuous in suggesting that the “re-establishing of homes and livelihoods” is in the future of an but an exceedingly small number of displaced persons. Three million people are in need of such assistance, and UNHCR doesn’t begin to have resources adequate to such a task. Even if Khartoum were inclined to devote the massive resources necessary to foster genuine peace and security in Darfur, and make appropriate restitution for the victims of genocidal displacement—and clearly it is not—the regime simply hasn’t got nearly enough resources, as the Sudanese economy continues its implosion—ER]
• Sudan, Chad agree on voluntary return for refugees | Radio Dabanga, June 1, 2017 | KHARTOUM
The Governments of Sudan and Chad have signed three bilateral agreements for the voluntary return of refugees from the two countries. The agreements, signed in Khartoum in the presence of the Resident Representative for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Wednesday.
Minister for the Interior Babakir Digna said the agreements represent the starting point for implementing the return from both sides.
The Chadian Minister of Local Government and Lands, Abubakar Jibril pointed out that there are more than 500,000 Sudanese refugees in Chad [a bizarrely inaccurate figure—ER] and 8,500 Chad refugees in Sudan.
[We may wonder about the degree of true cooperation in light of a recent Radio Dabanga dispatch (March 18, 2018:
“Sudanese refugees in Chad short of basics”: Sudanese refugees in Chad are suffering from a shortage of supplies of basic commodities such as sugar and cooking oil. Supply lorries have been prevented from reaching the camps. A sheik of the refugee camps in Chad told Radio Dabanga that Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia prevent commercial supply lorries moving from Sudan to Chad from carrying certain goods.]
• Large-scale resettlement reported in West Darfur | Radio Dabanga, April 19, 2018 | EL GENEINA
Large-scale settlement operations have begun with the government’s knowledge of new residents at the villages and farms of the displaced and refugees in areas east of El Geneina until Camp Sese on the road leading to Murnei, according to reports reaching this station from West Darfur. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that about 500 families have settled in the areas of Hajar Beida east of El Geneina coupled with the arrival of other numbers by vehicles from far away and settling east of El Geneina in allegedly government planned areas. Other witnesses said about 2,000 houses were set up in those areas. Witnesses reported that the most prominent areas that witnessed resettlement in the state are: Kass Kadik, Mazroub, Hajar Beida, Tabarik, Dalo Munga north of Habila, Humeida, and Sambala south of Habila.
[The figures here are more credible because of the witness reports; however, it must be stressed again that these figures leave the total number of displaced in Darfur and eastern Chad almost unchanged, even as additional displacement is occurring in various locations in Darfur—ER]
• Sudan vice-president inaugurates housing project in South Darfur | Radio Dabanga, April 16, 2018 | NYALA
Sudan’s Second Vice-President, Hasabo Abdelrahman, launched a housing project for the displaced in South Darfur’s Kass on Saturday. Abdelrahman inaugurated “the first 744 residential plots” in Kass locality where new homes will be erected for the displaced from the area. The South Darfur Minister of Urban Planning, Taha Abdallah, stated that the first phase of the housing project for the displaced in the state includes 25,000 residential units in the localities of Kass, Mershing, and Gireida.
[The key words here are “will be erected,” a project “launched,” “first phase”—and the figure 25,000 residential units is clearly also “future tense.” There are extremely good reasons to believe that this is simply PR from the Khartoum regime, with no intention of means to follow through. It is worth recalling that the DDPD was signed in July 2011, almost seven years ago. These are not great strides for such an extended period of time—ER]
South Darfur governor Adam El Faki warned that 2018 will be the last year in which the displaced in Darfur have three options concerning their new residences: Either to integrate in new housing projects, in newly-built towns, or to return to their villages of origin.
[This creates an impossible time-frame, given the scale of displacement in Darfur and eastern Chad: it is simply impossible for three million people to return to their homes and lands, especially given the prevailing insecurity; El Faki seems willing to consign the vast majority of Darfuris to the first two of his three “options”—ER]
• Qatar grants $70 million for Darfur model villages | Radio Dabanga, August 22, 2017 | KHARTOUM
Sudan signed a new agreement for the construction of model villages for displaced people in Darfur with the State of Qatar in the capital of Sudan on Monday. The agreement for $70 million from the Qatari Fund for Development should boost development efforts in Darfur. Ten projects, two in each of the five states, are to include fully integrated villages for refugees and displaced people in Darfur to voluntarily relocate to from the camps.
[Again, it is important to note that this is a “future tense” agreement, and even if implemented can’t possibly deal with the staggering problem of Darfuri displacement—ER]
• West Darfur State urges support for voluntary return efforts | Sudan Tribune, April 20, 2018 (KHARTOUM)
The government of West Darfur State on Friday has demanded support for voluntary return projects of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees. The semi-official Sudan Media Center (SMC) quoted the West Darfur governor Fadl Al-Mula al-Haga as saying the voluntary return of IDPs and refugees is the top priority for his government.
[Of one thing we may be sure: that give prevailing circumstances, returns will NOT be voluntary for the overwhelming majority of the displaced—ER]
• Darfur authorities, displaced voice different views on security situation | Radio Dabanga, March 12, 2018 | EL FASHER / ZALINGEI / NYALA
A farmer was injured and three others were abducted by militiamen in North Darfur on Saturday. The MP for Kutum doubts the possibility of voluntary return in the region because of the continuing insecurity. The government of Central Darfur has started preparations for the return of displaced from the camps after “the successful disarmament campaign” of last year. Displaced in Darfur have expressed their doubts about the voluntary return projects. The participants of a conference on peaceful co-existence in South Darfur on Sunday recommended the strengthening of the native administration in the state. “Militiamen under the leadership of Ibrahim Abubaker riding in two vehicles assaulted villagers tending their land in Lamena, in the area of Abu Sakin, on Saturday,” a farmer reported to Radio Dabanga.
“In the ensuing fight, El Fadil Mohamed Ali was injured. They left him and took Abubaker El Doma, his brother Mohamed, and veterinarian Abdelmajid Ahmed to an unknown destination,” he said.
Jaafar Abdelhakam, Governor of Central Darfur and chairman of the Higher Committee for Voluntary Return in the state considers the resettlement of displaced people and refugees in their areas of origin as “a strategic project adopted by the state’s leadership after the success of the weapons collection campaign.”
The comparison if the brutal disarmament campaign conducted by the RSF and the vast task of resettling Darfur’s displaced is too grotesque for comment—ER]
[A] community leader accused the Sudanese authorities of impeding the provision of humanitarian aid to the displaced in Darfur. “They are confiscating relief goods that are ready to be transported to the people living in the camps,” he said. He added that the displaced consider the current voluntary return projects initiated by the government as “intimidation. “They want the people living in the camps to forcibly return to their villages so as to obliterate the marks of displacement,” he said.
[This is a distinctly more revealing account of Khartoum’s attitudes toward the people of Darfur, displaced and non-displaced—ER]
Darfuris Pushing Back Creates an Explosive Situation
The push-back against Khartoum’s plans is significant and makes for all the ingredients of violent confrontation. UN agencies and the international community generally seem oblivious to the dangers of compulsion in the context of massive displacement, seething anger, and a feeling of abandonment. South Darfur Governor Adam El Faki’s imposing of an eight-month deadline for the displaced to return to the “place of origin” may well be the setting of a fuse for an enormous explosion of violence.
• North Darfur displaced reject Abu Shouk camp re-planning | Radio Dabanga, March 29, 2018 | ABU SHOUK CAMP, North Darfur
The Darfur displaced have strongly condemned attempts by the North Darfur government to forcibly dismantle and re-plan Abu Shouk camp for enforce return under the pretext of voluntary repatriation. In a statement on Wednesday, Sheikh Abdelrazig Yousef, the spokesman for the Coordination of Displaced and Refugees, said that “these attempts are being carried out in cooperation with some of the so-called weak souls in accordance with a studied plan to dismantle the camps.” Sheikh Yousef described the government’s ongoing plan to dismantle the camps as “a continuation of the crimes of genocide, ethnic cleansing and forced displacement by the elites of Khartoum government.” He told Radio Dabanga that in order to implement this, the regime has stopped humanitarian aid for more than four months in a row as a pressure.
[The UN must speak out about such outrageously inhumane pressure tactics; past fecklessness is no excuse for present cowardice and failure to confront the Khartoum regime—ER]
He confirmed the displaced people’s categorical rejection of the government’s plans to dismantle the rest of the camps in all Darfur and the introduction of the national number in exchange for the distribution of food rations for the displaced.
He called on the United Nations and all international and regional human rights and humanitarian organisations to provide urgent health and food services in order to save the lives in these camps because they are now facing slow death and prevent their transfer. Also he called on the UN Security Council to send international forces with adequate powers to protect us from the Janjaweed militias and the other militias that Khartoum government has used, such as the rapid support and others.
• Displaced of Central Darfur dismiss Wali’s promises as “propaganda” | Radio Dabanga, March 21, 2018 | CENTRAL DARFUR
The Governor (Wali) of Central Darfur, Jaafar Abdelhakam, has pledged to grant thousands of the displaced people who want to leave the camps the incentives needed to return to their original areas in five villages, but the displaced in the state described the governor’s words as “lies and propaganda to convince Al Bashir to keep him as governor in Central Darfur.”
The pledges include promises of services of drinking water, mills and army and police stations.
El Shafee Abdallah, coordinator of the Central Darfur camps, said the current conditions do not allow the return of the displaced people to their villages occupied by new settlers and in addition to insecurity of which they now suffer in the camps, not to mention those suggested villages. He renewed the demands of the displaced and said that the main issue is to expel the settlers, establish security, disarm the militias and achieve justice and comprehensive peace, otherwise they will not leave their villages.
This month about 400 displaced of camp Neem east of Ed Daein in East Darfur returned to their village at Areit area but were attacked and beaten by unidentified gunmen who injured two of them. The sheikhs said that the displaced returned to camp Neem on Monday morning on the orders of the locality commissioner, Hamdan Adam El Bushra, so as to prevent further violence and clashes.
• Darfur displaced scorn UNDP-sponsored conference in Khartoum | Radio Dabanga, November 1, 2017 | KALMA CAMP, South Darfur
The Darfur Displaced and Refugees Association has stated that the displaced people and refugees are not part of the Darfur Internal Dialogue and Consultation Conference which began at the Corinthia Hotel in Khartoum on Monday in consultation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Hussein Abusharati, the spokesman for the Association told Radio Dabanga from Kalma camp in South Darfur “The displaced people are not part of the ongoing dialogue, they have not been consulted.” He described the dialogue as “superfluous and imaginary similar to the national dialogue which has offered nothing to Sudan.”
[Here again, Darfuri civil society seems to be left out of international efforts to confront the most serious issues growing out of fifteen years of genocidal violence and displacement; this makes the same mistake that led to the disastrous Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (July 2011)—ER]
• “Don’t move an inch”: West Darfur displaced reject model town | Radio Dabanga, June 29, 2017 | EL GENEINA
Displaced people in West Darfur refuse to be replaced to a new town northwest of El Geneina, calling upon camp residents “not to move an inch from the camp.” The Darfur Displaced and Refugees Association in West Darfur announced its rejection of the decision by State Governor Fadlelmowla El Haja. El Haja ordered to establish a new town for the displaced people in El Ghaba, northwest of the state capital – named “Abuzer.”
The association said in a statement on Wednesday that the displaced people “will not leave their camps until a comprehensive peace and security is achieved, militias are disarmed, and perpetrators of genocide in the region prosecuted.”
[There seems an inevitable collision, almost certainly violent, between the absurd promises of the Khartoum regime and the real needs and grievances of the displaced people of Darfur—ER]
• Sudan Vice President calls for voluntary return survey in Darfur | Radio Dabanga, May 2, 2017 | EL FASHER
Sudan’s Second Vice-President Hasabo Mohamed Abdelrahman has called for a survey among displaced people in Darfur on the rehabilitation of camps and facilitation of voluntary repatriations. Abdelrahman instructed the preparation of a direct survey, regarding the rehabilitation of the camps as part of efforts to facilitate voluntary return, during a meeting with the Voluntary Repatriation Committee on Saturday. He urged the delegation of the committee, headed by Majdi Khalafallah, head of the Darfur Peace Monitoring Office, to fulfil the pledges of development in Darfur to donors.
[It is difficult to escape the conclusion that such efforts as Hassabo suggests are anything but preparation for the forcible movement of displaced persons if they do no “cooperate” with Khartoum’s preposterous vision of Darfur’s future. The situation has grown explosive, and when Khartoum begins a serious campaign of forcible removal and camp dismantling, the violence will claim untold numbers of lives—ER]
Two weeks ago displaced people in Darfur told this station that the continued announcements of the Sudanese government and the recent declaration of the US military attaché in Khartoum about the improved security situation in the region are “false propaganda.”
[The U.S. has certainly proved willing to support some of Khartoum’s most outrageous characterizations of Darfur; this is not a contribution to peace or security—ER]
While the majority of displaced long to return, reports of militiamen with their families occupying the abandoned villages and farms continue to emerge. The head of the Darfur Civil Society Platform Hamid Ali Nur said that the government’s options given to the Darfur displaced, either to return to their villages of origin, or integrate them into the local communities by re-structuring the camps, are fake. “As the displaced are not able to return, Khartoum’s policy is aimed at permanently displacing them from their homes, lands, and heritage.”
[This is the grim truth—and pretending otherwise, accommodating Khartoum’s instinct for propaganda, and the regime’s boundless capacity for lies will not advance the chances for peace or justice—ER]