Sudan

Sudan starts to take back control

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Significant shift in helping war-torn Darfur as ACT/Caritas hands over ownership of Belil Camp to local NGO

A local Sudanese NGO has taken over the running of a major camp set up in Darfur as part of the long-term plan to eventually hand back all responsibility to the country's own people.

The Sudanese Development Organisation (SUDO) - a long-term implementer on behalf of ACT International and Caritas Internationals - is now in charge of the Belil Camp near Nyala in Darfur.

The significance of this handover is that it can be seen as a precursor to major change in how the war-affected people are assisted.

ACT/Caritas intends that when the conflict in the region is resolved, "ownership" of its entire operation will be transferred to Sudanese-run organisations.

Improving facilities

The first tasks of the new management are to improve health facilities and food security in the camp, which is home to around 17,000 people and hugs the outskirts of Kalma Camp, the world's biggest IDP camp.

Illness is commonplace due to a major fly problem in the camp, which is especially affecting children, and residents want to see better health facilities while waiting for their return home.

The majority of residents are Dinka people from South Sudan, who originally fled the fighting in the south in the 1980s, only to then find themselves being driven from their land a second time when the conflict in Darfur escalated.

"We have also seen an increase in new arrivals in the last month," says ACT/Caritas acting director Mayen Wol Jong.

Humanitarian Aid Commission of Sudan (HAC) representative, Shaef El Nur, added: "The efforts and co-operation we see here are a symbol of peace."

For ACT/Caritas, the handover this weekend marked more than a year of delivering aid to the camp. "A community is run by its members," says Per Nordmark, the special advisor for partner support within the ACT/Caritas operation.

"Camp management is a big responsibility, but SUDO is fully capable of this enormous task. What we see in Belil is a grand example of the work the Sudanese themselves are doing to care for their nationals, who have been victimised by the conflict in Darfur."