The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) have provided humanitarian assistance to families in Tawila Locality, North Darfur. Many of them were returnees who had been displaced for over a decade, only for them to return and find their villages largely destroyed and homes completely broken down. Their living conditions were dire, compounded by an acute shortage of food, water, and essential households items.
As part of its efforts to alleviate the adverse humanitarian conditions of the returnees in the last quarter of 2018, the ICRC and the SRCS provided essential household items and full food ration for 3,300 families from the villages of Mortal, Khazan, Tunjur and Dobo Al Omda. The relief mission started in mid-October, during which the ICRC also repaired 19 water hand pumps in the area, restoring clean water to 9,500 people.
Prior to this response, the ICRC had conducted an assessment mission to determine the needs of returnees, IDPs, and IDPs in transit. Specifically, an integrated ICRC team undertook a field mission to assess the needs of returnees in Tawilla locality, East of Jebel Mara. Later on, another mission was undertaken to further understand the situation and register potential beneficiaries.
The objective of the ICRC was to respond to the needs for food and essential household items as identified during the assessment missions and to assess and establish mid-term and long-term projects to improve the economic and livelihood status of the community.
Based on the assessments, therefore, food distribution for the said 3,300 families was undertaken, while 660 households in Dobo Al Omda and Khazan Tunjur received essential household items.
One of the beneficiaries was 70-year-old Mohammed Adam, who spent one hour and thirty minutes riding a donkey to arrive at the distribution centre. Despite his frail look, Mohammed managed to make the trip alone, as his two teenage sons had to urgently go to his farm to secure it from prowling cattle that could eat up crops that were awaiting harvest. When asked why his wife did not accompany him since his two sons were unable to, Mohammed volunteered the information that his spouse is unable to walk. According to him, "She is completely disabled because of a serious gunshot wound sustained 10 years ago when hostilities broke out near our village."
As expected, the heavy fighting that ensued forced inhabitants of the village to flee their homes in order to seek safety in areas adjudged more secure. As for Mohammed and his family, they fled to ZamZam IDP camp, located 15 km south of Al Fashir city, the capital of North Darfur State.
Mohammed briefly reflected on their sojourn in that camp and concluded sadly that life there "was very difficult." It was no surprise therefore that by the middle of June this year, he and his family made the weighty decision to voluntarily return to their home village. For a fleeting moment, Mohammed's face brightened, as he affirmed that things have improved and that "it's safe enough right now" to continue living there.
When it was finally his turn and after he had received the food distributed by the ICRC and SRCS team, Mohammed heaved a sigh of relief and remarked joyfully, "Al Hamdulilah!" expressing thanks to God. He jovially summed it up by saying, "Now our stomachs will be full and we will, therefore, have enough strength to be able to harvest our farms."
Like Mohammed, other beneficiaries were quite pleased with the provision of these items by the ICRC and SRCS team and community leaders were appreciative of the support provided to mitigate the adverse humanitarian conditions of the beneficiaries.
The ICRC has so far this year provided seeds and tools to 18,000 households in Golo and Rokero in Jebel Marra and continues to monitor the humanitarian situation with a view to providing relief and assistance as required in accordance with its working modalities and existing agreements.