Darfur UN peacekeeping chief visits village where thousands of residents have returned

14 July 2009The head of United Nations peacekeeping today wrapped up a two-day visit to Sudan’s Darfur region by meeting traditional leaders and representatives of women and youth in a village where more than 2,000 families have recently voluntarily returned. Alain Le Roy, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, travelled to the West Darfur village of Seraf Jidad, located close to the Sudanese border with Chad, to listen first-hand to the experiences of those who have returned.Mr. Le Roy met the umdahs (traditional leaders) and other community leaders, including youth and women’s representatives, to hear their concerns, as well as staff members from UN agencies and the joint African Union-UN peacekeeping mission (known as UNAMID).The Under-Secretary-General noted that it was apparent that life in Seraf Jidad was returning to normal, given the farming activities undertaken by the returnees. He also said it was clear that UNAMID’s quick impact projects (QIPs) in the village were already benefiting the returnees, with the latest QIP involving the rehabilitation of the school.Seraf Jidad and the area immediately surrounding it was home to as many as 8,000 families until January 2008, when fighting between Sudanese Government forces and members of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) forced residents to flee to camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs).But many residents started returning three months ago after local humanitarian officials promised better security and offered plastic sheeting and other materials for the rebuilding of homes.During his visit to West Darfur, Mr. Le Roy also met with the State Wali (Governor), Abu Ghassim, to discuss issues including security and the proliferation of arms in the area.

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