First Published: 2017-09-19

Bashir calls on Darfur displaced to return
More than 2.5 million people have fled their homes since 2003, when conflict erupted in Darfur after rebels took up arms against Omar Bashir's government.
Middle East Online

Human rights groups warn the Darfur conflict is still far from over.

DARFUR - Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Tuesday urged those displaced by the conflict in Darfur to return home, saying the region had now recovered from a war that has killed tens of thousands.

More than 2.5 million people have fled their homes since 2003, when a conflict erupted in Darfur after ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Bashir's Arab-dominated government, accusing it of marginalising the region economically and politically.

Most of the displaced live in camps, after escaping fighting between government forces and rebels that the United Nations says has killed around 300,000 people.

Top Sudanese officials claim the conflict has now ended, and Bashir on Tuesday said those displaced should return to their homes as he visited the region.

"The war has impacted the people negatively, but now the people are reconciling," Bashir said at a rally in West Darfur broadcast live on state television.

"We want the internally displaced people to return to their homes, their farms and their villages."

Bashir said the government also planned to disarm all militias in the region.

"Darfur has started to recover, but this recovery will be complete when we collect arms," he said.

"We want arms to be held only by our regular forces."

Darfur, a region of the size of France, is awash with weapons held by tribal militias, including those backed by government forces.

Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and war crimes related to the Darfur conflict, is expected to visit some camps for the displaced over the next few days.

On Tuesday, the residents of the Kalma camp in South Darfur, the largest housing those displaced by the conflict, protested ahead of Bashir's likely visit there.

"We reject Omar al-Bashir's visit to Kalma because these camps appeared only after the killings and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur," they said in a statement.

"We reject meeting him completely."

Human rights groups warn the Darfur conflict is still far from over and the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers, as planned earlier this year, will leave many areas of the region without international protection.

Bashir's visit to Darfur comes just weeks ahead of Washington's decision on October 12 on whether to permanently lift its sanctions imposed on Khartoum.

 

Iran airs "confessions" of researcher facing death for spying

Mayor of Libya's Misrata assassinated

Macron sees war on IS in Syria will be won in February

Assad blasts US-backed Kurdish fighters

Christmas in Jordan dimmed by Jerusalem crisis

Protesters torch political party offices in Iraqi Kurdistan

Turkey prosecutor seeks release of German reporter

Kuwait likely to face political uncertainty

Lebanon arrests suspected killer of British embassy worker

Israel targets Hamas site in Gaza

Turkey slams Austria ‘discrimination’

Iran's schools suffocate in smog

Tunisia elections delayed

Istanbul summit strong on the rhetoric, weak on concrete steps

Israeli air traffic halted due to strikes

Two Danes stabbed by man shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ in Gabon

Morocco’s Islamists elect new leader, walking away from predecessor’s populism

UN considers rejecting Trump Jerusalem decision

Palestinians call for protests against Pence Jerusalem visit

Palestinian billionaire detained in Saudi Arabia

Egypt opens Rafah crossing for four days

Turkey court releases 7 suspects in New Year attack trial

Palestinian activist killed in Gaza protests

Foreign fighters a worry as IS struggles to survive

Over half Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in 'extreme poverty'

Palestinians killed in continuing protests over Jerusalem occupation

Bourita: Extraordinary meeting between ECOWAS, Morocco to be held beginning of 2018

Saudi-led air strikes, clashes as Yemen forces battle rebels

Sahel force funding shows terrorism fight is Saudi 'priority'

UN 'appalled' at mass execution of jihadists in Iraq

Iraq's Sistani says Hashed should be under government control

Middle-class Egypt adapts as costs soar

Somalia's budget meets IMF terms

Israel PM questioned in graft probe

US says Iran supplied ballistic missile to Yemen rebels

Lebanon approves bid for oil, gas exploration

US to present 'irrefutable evidence' of Iran violations

Istanbul 'to remove Gulen links' from street names

Iraq hangs 38 jihadists

Pence to visit Middle East despite controversy

Hamas chief calls for continued Jerusalem protests

EU to repatriate 15,000 migrants from Libya in two months

Syria Kurds fear US ally will desert them after IS defeat

Israeli drugmaker Teva to cut 14,000 jobs over two years

Turkey rescues 51 migrants stranded on rocks