Ismail urged Guterres to help “find a quick solution (for) the Darfur refugees and IDPs (internally displaced persons) because their prolonged presence in camps will make them dependent on humanitarian assistance and does not encourage them to return to their homes.” Despite a drop in the intensity of the fighting since last year, the people of Darfur have continued to flock to refugee camps where they often find better living conditions than in their home villages.
Guterres, launching a 10-day tour that will also take him to Chad and Kenya, also met yesterday with President Omar Bashir. More than two million Sudanese civilians have been displaced by the 30-month-old civil war in Darfur and the ensuing humanitarian crisis, while another 200,000 have found refuge in neighboring Chad.
“There is a question of the world’s responsibility towards Africa which needs to be taken seriously,” Guterres said in an interview to Portuguese radio before departing on his tour. Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid told AFP after meeting Guterres that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would assist in rehabilitating 50 villages in Darfur to allow for the return of refugees from Chad.
Meanwhile, representatives of Sudan’s government and the two rebel factions fighting in Darfur are meeting in Tanzania to salvage stalled peace talks, officials said yesterday. Under the auspices of Salim Ahmed Salim, the African Union special envoy for Darfur, the three sides began unofficial talks in Dar es Salaam at the weekend amid disputes over when the Nigerian-hosted negotiations should resume. Details of the talks, which reportedly began on Saturday, were not available but officials at the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation which Salim chairs said he was expected to make a Sudan-related announcement at a news conference today.