80 Killed In Clashes In Sudan’s Darfur

More than 80 killed in tribal conflicts in Darfur over the weekend

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Violent clashes between rival tribes in Darfur (western Sudan) have caused the death of more than 80 people in less than 48 hours, according to the latest balance of this Sunday, just two weeks after the end of an international peacekeeping mission.

These clashes have been the deadliest after the end of the joint UN-African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission in Darfur on December 31, a withdrawal that sparked fears of escalation of violence among the inhabitants of this vast region.

“The death toll from the bloody events in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, has risen since Saturday morning … reaching 83 dead and 160 wounded, including members of the armed forces. armed “, tweeted this Sunday the Central Committee of Doctors of Sudan, next to the protest movement that last year brought down the autocratic president Omar al Bashir.

 

The official Sudanese agency Suna, citing the local section of the doctors’ union, had previously reported 48 dead and 97 injured. He added that the fighting continued.

These oppose the Al Massalit tribe with the Arab nomads. Armed militias favorable to the latter attacked El Geneina and several houses were burned, according to testimonies.

This Sunday, Abdel Fattah al Burhane, president of the sovereign Council in charge of coordinating the political transition in Sudan, urgently convened the security services to discuss the matter.

 

For its part, the UN has expressed its “deep concern” over these violent events.

“The Secretary General (of the UN, Antonio Guterres) calls on the Sudanese authorities to do everything possible to achieve a de-escalation, put an end to the fighting, restore order and law and guarantee the protection of civilians,” he said in a statement was made by his spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric.

 

Khartoum imposed a curfew on West Darfur, and Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok sent a “high-level” delegation to the scene to try to restore order.

The local branch of the doctors’ union asked the authorities to “guarantee the safety of the sanitary facilities,” warning that the number of victims is very likely to increase, Suna said.

 

For its part, the Sudanese Professionals Association, one of the spearheads of the protest movement, pointed out that the violence had spread to camps for internally displaced persons.

“Part of the Kerindig camp was set on fire and the very serious damage … forced many people to leave,” he said in a statement. “These facts show that the circulation of weapons (…) is one of the main causes of the deterioration of the situation.”

 

Darfur is experiencing an upsurge in tribal fighting, causing 15 deaths and dozens of injuries at the end of December, just days before the end of the joint UN-AU peacekeeping mission, an operation that lasted 13 years.

The progressive withdrawal of troops from this mission, which is expected to begin in January 2021, will take place over six months. And the Sudanese government will take responsibility for protecting the populations of the region.

– Earth, water –

The conflict in Darfur began in 2003 with the clash between troops loyal to the regime of General Omar al Bashir, in Khartoum, and ethnic minorities who consider themselves marginalized and demand a more equal distribution of power and wealth in the country.

The violence caused some 300,000 deaths and more than 2.5 million displaced, especially during the first years, according to the UN.

To fight the rebels, the Bashir regime deployed the Janjaweed, an armed militia made up mostly of Arab nomads, accused of perpetrating “ethnic cleansing” and rape. Later, thousands of these militiamen joined the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group.

Although the violence has decreased in intensity, clashes are quite frequent, both over access to land and water, between nomadic Arab herders and farmers from Darfur.

The transitional Sudanese government, established after the fall of the autocrat Al Bashir, in April 2019 under strong pressure from a popular protest, signed a peace agreement last October with various insurgent groups, including in Darfur.

After UNAMID, which had some 16,000 troops, the UN will remain in Sudan through its own mission deployed to support the transition in Sudan (Minuats).

This political mission will have the task of helping the transitional government, launched in August 2019 and the result of an agreement between the military and leaders of the protest movement.

It would also help implement recent peace accords in conflict-torn areas. Omar al Bashir is in prison, while other former Sudanese officials are subject to arrest warrants from the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges such as “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” in Darfur.

Ben Oakley
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