Darfur camps to close in 2010
Nairobi - The Sudanese government plans to start closing down camps for the displaced population in the war-torn region of Darfur next year, a senior official said on Wednesday.
Some 20 000 housing units are being constructed to accommodate the homeless in the towns of El-Fasher, El-Geneina and Nyala, Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Hasabu Abdel-Rahman told the UN-sponsored Miraya FM radio.
He said the displaced people will have the choice of returning to their village if they do not want to move to the new housing complexes.
Darfur rebel groups criticised the move, calling it a cover by the government to commit further crimes against the Darfur people.
"The government wants to send our people back to the same places they fled from so that they can get killed again under the eyes of the world," Abdel-Wahid Al-Nur, leader of Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), told the Sudan Tribune.
The Darfur Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the biggest rebel group in Darfur, appealed to the international community to pressure Khartoum to drop the plan.
Planning a war crime
"This is clearly and unequivocally a war crime what they are trying to do. They are taking advantage of the world easing pressure on them," said JEM spokesperson Ahmed Hussein.
He said the government intended to cover up "a new crime... similar to the one in Kalma camp" - a reference to August 2008 when government forces killed dozens of refugees while searching for rebels.
Some 2.5 million people are living in refugee camps in Darfur.
The UN says up to 300 000 people have died and 2.7 million fled their homes since ethnic minority rebels in the region first rose up against the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum in February 2003.