U.N. official: One-third of Darfur's population still displaced

Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Violence in Darfur, Sudan, has declined, but people are still too scared to return home, a senior U.N. peacekeeping official told the Security Council on Wednesday.

Bintou Keita, assistant secretary-general for Peacekeeping Operations, said nearly one-third of Darfur's population -- about 2 million people -- remain displaced and "positive developments have not led to the voluntary and sustainable return of internally displaced persons."

The secretary-general's latest report on the African Union U.N. Hybrid Operation in Darfur found that people have been reluctant to return because they still feel "anxiety about security and lack of confidence about present and future prospects, as progress has been slow on addressing such issues as land, poor resource management, accountability and security sector reform," a U.N. news release said.

Despite the improvements cited by the United Nations, some violence continues to spark in the war-torn region -- and some argue there is more violence, not less.

"[V]iolence has increased in 2016 and 2017, including allegations, brought by credible sources, of chemical attacks and rape," Niemat Ahmadi, president and founder of Darfur Women Action Group in Washington, D.C., wrote in May. "Attacks have been perpetrated by Sudanese armed forces, including the Janjaweed and Rapid Support Forces, against helpless internally displaced people."

The United Nations acknowledges that some violence has persisted, including an armed group's attempt to enter a refugee camp on Nov. 7. But the international organization said it is following through with plans to decrease its presence in the area by closing 11 team sites and reducing numbers of military and police personnel.

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