Ismail Tissot - Khartoum

Sudanese activists in the state of South Kordofan stressed the necessity of resuming the "Safe Neighborhood Villages" initiative, in implementation of the demands of the political settlement to which the current negotiations between the Sudanese government and armed movements will end in Juba (the capital of South Sudan).

The initiative - which has been affected by the revolutionary movement in Sudan over the past year - was launched by the Supreme Peace Council since 2018, in line with the efforts of the South Kordofan State government to advance the peace process from within.

The initiative aims to build and rehabilitate about 64 ancient villages surrounding conflict areas, by providing basic services such as water, health and education.

The Supreme Peace Council (a popular entity concerned with spreading a culture of peace and promoting peaceful coexistence) began coordination with a number of civil organizations and government institutions to launch the initiative.

About 425 villages in Southern Kordofan State were affected by the 35-year war, and displaced more than 800,000 residents.

South Kordofan State is witnessing relatively stability after the repeated extension of the ceasefire by the parties to the conflict, government forces and the SPLM-North, which has created a favorable climate for the return of hundreds of people from the SPLM-controlled areas.

However, the lack of preparation of the voluntary return areas to receive the returnees made many of them move towards the capital, Khartoum, and some states, where they settled in informal settlement-like neighborhoods on the outskirts of these cities.

Try to settle down
Stopping the migration bleeding from South Kordofan State was the platform from which the safe neighborhood villages initiative was born to accommodate the returnees from the conflict areas in the nearby villages that have the necessities of a decent life.

Kabashi: Safe Neighborhood villages aim
To make peace (the island)

Deputy head of the Supreme Council for Peace in the Southern Kordofan State, Yasser Kabashi, says that the villages of the safe neighborhood aim at making peace and creating a stable platform for building stability through several activities and programs.

And he saw - in an interview with Al-Jazeera Net - that they serve as bridges that enhance confidence-building between government areas and areas that are under the control of the popular movement.

The villages of Al-Hamra, Miri Barra, and Al-Mashaish, which are affiliated with Kadugli locality and which are part of the Safe Neighborhood Villages system, are witnessing a voluntary return of citizens from the areas of the Popular Movement, at a rate of three to four families per day.

Sghaira Ahmed Yaqoub (a housewife from the Keqa Al-Khail area) - during the distribution of relief items - says the area is safe and the conditions are stable.

And its people in the areas of the popular movement called for the necessity of returning and catching up with the preparations taking place for the agricultural season, so that they turn into producers instead of being recipients of subsidies.

Forced alienation
For his part, Mayor of "Sabouri" Hamdeen Moalla Kno expressed his happiness to return from the areas of the popular movement to settle in his village after years spent in forced exile by the war machine.

Mayor Hamdeen used the opportunity to distribute relief aid to demand more coordination and cooperation between the government and national and international organizations to enhance the stability of the returnees and provide decent livelihoods.

And the Governor of Southern Kordofan, Major General Rashad Ismail Abdel Hamid, described the matter as a good indication of overcoming the waves of war.

On the future of development in post-revolution South Kordofan, he said that his mandate is in urgent need to extend the hand of development and extend services by rehabilitating war-affected areas and implementing reconstruction projects, in order to encourage citizens to settle.

In this context, the People's Movement-North welcomed the initiative of the Safe Neighborhood Villages, and said that the upcoming peace needs to crystallize the concepts of mixing and overlapping between all ethnicities and ethnic groups in the Nuba Mountains.

The Secretary-General of the Popular Movement-North, Major General Ismail Khamis Jalab Al-Jazeera Net, singled out statements in which he described the villages of the safe neighborhood as the idea that supports freedom of movement between citizens, through which the government and the SPLM agreement can be activated to deliver humanitarian aid to the affected citizens.