Long way home for displaced Sudanese as fears of insecurity persist
It has been 15 years since armed raiders forced Rawda Yusuf’s family to flee to Chad from their village in Sudan’s North Darfur state.
Since then, home has dominated her thoughts but returning has not been easy.
Her ordeal began one afternoon during harvest season in Kurgei West village.
“I went outside to see what was happening and saw armed men,” recalls the 42-year-old. “There were clouds of smoke and a lot of commotion.” She fled the attack with her two children.
Over 600,000 refugees have fled the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region, which began in 2003. Half went to Chad and a further 1.9 million are internally displaced people (IDP’s) within Sudan itself.
The signing of a Tripartite Agreement in 2017 between UNHCR, Sudan and Chad signaled hope for Rawda and thousands of Sudan’s displaced.
"My land was occupied by other people."
Now a mother of four, Rawda opted to return home last November.
“I saw it as a new beginning for myself and my children,” says Rawda, who hoped to resume her life as a farmer. But fears of insecurity and lack of basic services meant she is living, for now, in a camp in Sudan for IDPs.
“When we arrived in Sudan, I was ready to go back home but I was informed by neighbours who had returned to my village that my land was occupied by other people,” she says.
Rawda is among some nearly 4,000 Sudanese refugees who have returned from Chad since 2017. But a lack of basic services such as hospitals, water and schools has made it harder to rebuild their lives and fears of further attacks persist.
The country also hosts over 1.1 million refugees – most of them from South Sudan. Resources are needed for refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Sudan also continues to receive new arrivals.
The number of refugees from CAR to remote parts of South and Central Darfur States grew from just over 5,000 to nearly 17,000 in the last quarter of 2019.
Sudan already faces a severe economic crisis which has strained the generosity of host communities because local resources are scarce.
UNHCR has launched a funding appeal for US$477 million for the refugee response. UNHCR, along with over 30 partners, is appealing for more international support to support peacebuilding and help millions of displaced as well as their generous hosts across Sudan.
"Sudan has a long history of hosting refugees and asylum seekers but also struggles with its own internal displacement, while facing a severe economic crisis. Our call comes at a time when the country is going through a historical political transition, and requires international solidarity to achieve peace and stability," said UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch.
Last year, UNHCR’s operation in Sudan was one of the most under resourced in the world with only 32 per cent funds being available out of the needed US$269 million.