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UN: 13,000 Sudanese refugees return to Darfur

Some 13,000 Sudanese refugees have returned to Sirba and Kulbus localities in Sudan's state of West Darfur, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced today.

OCHA added that a joint inter-agency mission, including representatives from the Government's Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), UN agencies, international and national NGOs, UNAMID and Sudanese security, have visited the refugees areas "to inspect the returnees areas and identify their humanitarian needs."

"The mission found that the nomads, residents and return communities in the return areas live together peacefully as there are functioning farms and crop protection committees that mediate and resolve disputes over farmlands'" the agency said.

The villages of Korni and Kalbeen village in West Darfur, the agency noted, have witnessed the return of 2,012 families (about 10,000 people), who were displaced in 2013, to displacement camps in El Geneina city.

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The UN agency pointed out that the international organisations have dug two water wells, installed two hand pumps and distributed emergency household supplies, including blankets and mosquito nets, which have benefited about 1,500 people.

116 families (about 600 people), who had returned from Chad to the West Darfur's Saraya district, currently seek basic living needs, such as water sources and education, UOCA added.

In addition, around 450 families (about 2,500 people), who fled the state in 2004, had returned from Chad to the Jarjira district in Kelbus locality, according to the agency.

"Returning refugees are in need of educational programs, health facilities and permanent water sources," OCHA stressed.

On 31 August, the UN said that "there are obstacles hindering the displaced Sudanese to return back to their homeland."

The Sudanese government recently began a series of weapons collection campaigns hoping to quell violence in the region, to convince the refugees to return to their home areas that they fled when the conflict started in 2003. However, observers say with the lack of a permanent peace agreement, it would be difficult to persuade Arab tribes to hand over their weapons.

The West Darfur state has been experiencing a bloody armed conflict between the Sudanese army and rebels since 2003, which left about 300,000 dead people and displaced nearly 2.7 million others, according to the UN statistics.

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