Arabs from Chad and Niger are crossing into Darfur in “unprecedented” numbers, prompting claims that the Sudanese government is trying systematically to repopulate the war- ravaged region.
An internal UN report, obtained by The Independent, shows that up to 30,000 Arabs have crossed the border in the past two months. Most arrived with all their belongings and large flocks. They were greeted by Sudanese Arabs who took them to empty villages cleared by government and janjaweed forces.
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One UN official said the process “appeared to have been well planned”. The official continued: “This movement is very large. We have not seen such numbers come into west Darfur before.”
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, sent a team to the border with Chad at the end of May to interview the new arrivals. Fighting in eastern Chad has been steadily increasing and it was thought that many could be refugees. But only a very small number have required support from UNHCR.
“Most have been relocated by Sudanese Arabs to former villages of IDPs (internally displaced people) and more or less invited to stay there,” said the UN official.