SUDAN WATCH: Difficult journey for displaced Dinkas in Darfur returning home to Sudan's Northern Bahr El Ghazal province

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Difficult journey for displaced Dinkas in Darfur returning home to Sudan's Northern Bahr El Ghazal province

Concern is growing at the fate of thousands of displaced Dinka tribes people attempting to return to their homes in Sudan's Northern Bahr El Ghazal province from South Darfur, International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported 11 Apr 2006 - excerpt:

Displaced Dinkas

Photo: IOM assists displaced Dinkas in Kiir Galama, Northern Bahr El Ghaszl province (Louis Hoffman/IOM 2006)

With the assistance of community leaders, IOM has to date registered some 4,500 stranded internally displaced Dinkas in the locality of Kiir Galama, on the southern banks of the river Kiir.

"Their living conditions are desperate," said IOM's Louis Hoffmann. "They are stranded without potable water, adequate food or health care and have no money to move on. Their situation is set to worsen as more displaced people arrive in Kiir Galama on a daily basis."

In response to a request from the governor of Northern Bahr El Ghazal and in coordination with the UN, IOM yesterday organized the first land convoy from Kiir Galama to assist a group of 321 displaced Dinkas to return to their places of origin in the region of Jaac, some 40 kilometres south in the central highlands of Northern Bahr El Ghazal province.

While many had walked from South Darfur to the KiirRiver, the remaining group was too distressed to make the last part of the voyage on foot. They are part of a much larger group of tens of thousands of fellow tribes people who were displaced by conflict and drought in South Sudan to South Darfur 19 years ago and who were again displaced by the fighting in Darfur in 2003.

Since the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement between Khartoum and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement in January 2005, more and more internally displaced people have been making their way home to South Sudan.

With little wealth after having lost their possessions in their initial flight to Darfur and again deprived of any assets by the conflict in Darfur, their journey home is proving to be long and difficult as they are forced to sell whatever they can to pay for train and truck fees to take them home.

This week IOM will open a way station at Samaha to provide basic facilities such as water, sanitation, and shelter for the displaced Dinkas.

"We are running against time as many more displaced people will want to return to Northern Bahr El Ghazal province before the onset of the rainy season," added IOM's Louis Hoffmann. "Once the rains begin, roads will increasingly become impassable, and reintegration at a community level will prove too difficult to support returns until later in the year when the rains end."

IOM has also opened an office at Ed Daein in order to track the spontaneous returns and to monitor the vulnerability of groups travelling home, information which will also be used for planning return and reintegration programmes for the displaced upon arrival at their final destinations.

As part of a wider assistance programme to help internally displaced people (IDPs) who wish to return to their homes in South Sudan, IOM has already established a way station in Kadugli in South Kordofan province which is providing clean water, sanitation, shelter, hygiene and emergency health care and referral.

For further information, please contact Louis Hoffmann, Tel: +882 16433 38260: Email:

New life in South Sudan

Feb 9 2006 The Dinka's epic trek across South Sudan continues - 250,000 cattle have arrived so far in 34 cattle camps around Bor
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Displaced to Darfur, Dinkas fall victim to 2 Sudan wars

Excerpt from Dec 19 2004 article in Boston Globe by Raymond Thibodeaux, Globe Correspondent provides some background to the Dinkas displaced to Darfur, from southern Sudan:

In southern Sudan, the pro government Arab militias were called Murahaleen. They were predecessors to the Arab militias, known as the Janjaweed, who are terrorizing Darfur today.

Michael Garang is a lanky, 42-year-old Dinka who, like Deng, is from Bahr al-Ghazal. He and the other Dinkas who fled to Darfur from southern Sudan survived on jobs as day laborers for the Arabs and the Fur, Darfur's largest tribe. His wife, like most Dinka women, found jobs cleaning houses, doing laundry, or collecting water and firewood.

"When the Janjaweed came to our village, they wanted to kill the Furs and the Dinkas. Even though we were neighbors and friends, the Arabs living among us never raised a gun to protect us," Garang said.

The reason most of the 7,500 Dinkas refused to leave the Otash camp is that few of them had registered for food rations and were forced to remain near Nyala to find jobs to earn enough money to feed themselves. The Dinkas also were protected by the aid workers at the Otash camp, as police and Arab militias rarely harassed residents in their presence.

The camp is crowded with thousands of families squeezed into tiny, fragile huts. They live on the edge of starvation, made worse by the recent upsurge in violence that has halted food relief by the United Nations and many nongovernmental aid agencies. On the other side of Nyala is the Beliel camp, where 5,000 Dinkas have lived since years before the Darfur crisis broke out.

As the aid coming into Beliel fizzled, many of the Dinkas were absorbed by Nyala's labor-intensive job market, spurred by both Arab and African business leaders who have come to depend on the low wages for which the Dinkas are willing to work.

For the more than 1.5 million people forced off their land by the fighting in Darfur, the Dinkas' predicament is an ominous forecast for their own lives in the coming years, especially as the crisis in western Sudan shows signs of escalating.

In much of Africa, where land confers identity and status, Darfurians, like the Dinkas before them, are becoming landless and increasingly vulnerable to attacks by progovernment militias, mostly drawn from nomadic Arab herding tribes with a centuries-old legacy of antagonism toward African farmers.

"The situation here is so miserable that most of us just want to go back home to southern Sudan to be buried on our own land," said Roberto Dimo, a 99-year-old Dinka who lives in a tiny, sand-dusted hut in Otash. "But the Arabs have taken our land, so we can't even do that."

Further reading

Mar 30 2004 IRIN Fighting reported in Bahr al-Ghazal between different Dinkas groups

Apr 9 2004 Eric Reeves The lesson of the Darfur truce accord IRIN reports on the fate of Dinkas from southern Sudan caught up in the racially/ethnically animated destruction of Darfur: "Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the state of Southern Darfur, western Sudan, say their camp was looted and burned by Arab militiamen on 4 April [ ]. The camp, home to thousands of Dinkas -- an ethnic group from southern Sudan -- is located on the edge of Abu Jura, a village about 40 km from Nyala. Almost all of it was burned by Janjawid -- Arab militias -- several of the IDPs told IRIN in Nyala. 'We are targeted because we are black,' a Dinka teacher claimed. 'The Janjawid said: "We don't want any black skin here." (IRIN Nyala, Darfur, April 8, 2004)

Oct 19 2004 Emily Wax, Beliel Camp, Sudan Sudan's Dinkas, displaced by past conflict, fear violence in Darfur. Note, Beliel is less than five miles from Kalma, South Darfur.

Feb 10 2006 Sudan's identity and the notion of broken promises - In 1964 and 1965, Al Misseriya massacred Dinkas and other Southern Sudanese in El Muglad and Babanusa. Some members of Al Misseriya, who would want to rewrite history of the area, currently claim that the conflict in question was between Al Misseriyia and the rebels.

Jan 21 2006 Juba Declaration is meaningless without ratification - The recent nomination of under-secretaries for GOSS demonstrates that Salva Kiir is uncompromising Dinka tribalist. Out of 18 under-secretaries, nine are Dinkas. There is only one Nuer from the list. The nomination is an insult to SSDF's negotiating team in Juba and it is tribalism as usual. What will be the work of "political committee" stipulated in the Juba Declaration if Salva Kiir is continuing to fill the GOSS with Dinkas from Bahr-El Ghazal?

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