Following the return of nearly 1,500 Sudanese refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) to South Darfur’s Dafag village in El Radom locality late last year, UNHCR and the Recovery, Return, & Reintegration (RRR) sector, led by UNDP and the government’s Voluntary Return and Reintegration Commission (VRRC), organized an inter-agency assessment mission to the area. The objective of the mission was to look into livelihoods and community coping strategies as well as gaps in basic services, and mobilize multi-sector support for the sustainable reintegration of the returnees. The mission confirmed the need for enhancements to health, water, education, sanitation and hygiene services for both the returnee and host communities.
In December 2017, returnees were provided with initial reintegration assistance by UNHCR, including Non-food Items, seeds and tools, and cash grants for shelter construction and livelihood start-up. UNHCR and the Commissioner of Refugees (COR) have also worked with the locality commissioner to establish land and security committees, and have further ensured land allocation to returnees.
In addition to the returnees from CAR, there are also returnees from IDP camps in Nyala in the area. An estimated 500 people have returned from Al Salam and Otash IDP camps since 2014 and according to the Voluntary Return and Resettlement Commission (VRRC), a further 3,000 IDPs from the two camps also want to return to Dafag. Improved security is the main reason refugees and IDPs have decided to return to the area in South Darfur.
The area is also rich in natural resources, with fertile land favourable for agriculture and livestock rearing. Approximately 90 per cent of the host community in Dafag own agricultural land with an average of between 10 to 25 feddans (approximately 4.2 to 10.5 hectares) per family. While initial seed and tool distribution has already been provided to refugee returnees, while more diversified livelihood and coping strategies will be necessary in the long term to ensure sustainable reintegration.
Limited access to water, health, sanitation, and education facilities are key concerns in Dafag for both returnees and host communities, particularly with the increasing population. Initial assistance from UNICEF and Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) with chlorination tablets and water management training has helped improve water quality, however an increase to the water supply is needed. A mobile health clinic has also been established by the Ministry of Health (MOH), but lacks sufficient staffing and capacity. Construction of a health clinic has therefore been recommended. While sanitation facilities are largely lacking in Dafag, UNHCR constructed 20 communal latrines at a reception centre and provided cash assistance to the returnees, which is also intended to help them construct household latrines, as part of their shelters. Further improvements to the sanitation conditions are still needed, including hygiene promotion. Approximately 750 children among the return population are also in need of access to establish facilities and qualified teachers.
Overall, in line with the New Way of Working (NWOW), it is recommended that the RRR work with its members and line ministries to enhance basic services in Dafag to support sustainable return and future development.