Deadly tribal clashes in Sudan's Darfur reveal fragility of peace effort

Deadly tribal clashes in Sudan's Darfur reveal fragility of peace effort
Sudan's transitional government has dispatched additional troops to West Darfur in an attempt to quell the violence.
3 min read
31 December, 2019
At least 17 people have been injured in El-Geneina [Getty]
Sudan was set to dispatch troops to West Darfur on Tuesday as tribal clashes between Arabs and non-Arabs continue, killing at least two dozen people so far, according to a local aid group.

At least 24 people have been killed since the intercommunal violence erupted over the weekend, some of them burned to death. A number of the dead are children, Adam Regal, a spokesman for a local organisation that helps run refugee camps, told the AP.

He added that at least 17 others were wounded.

Sudan's transitional government announced on Monday evening it would dispatch additional troops to El-Geneina, capital of the West Darfur province, in response to the violence.

Minister of Cabinet Affairs Omer Manis said Khartoum would also send a delegation led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and senior Sovereign Council member Mohammad Hamdan Daglo to El-Geneina to assess the situation, The Sudan Tribune reported.

Rebel groups from war-torn Darfur have also suspended peace talks with the transitional government in response, despite the fact negotiations yielded an initial framework agreement last week.

The transitional government has been engaged in a series of peace talks with rebel groups from the country's three conflict zones - Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan - since October.

Despite the government's commitment to end the conflicts, violence against civilians has continued in Darfur, according to reports by independent Sudanese news outlets and rights organisations.

"Killings, abritrary arrests, and incidents of looting and rape" occur in a regular basis, Ahmed Alzobeir, Sudan researcher for Amnesty International, told The New Arab earlier this month.

Read more: Little hope for change among Sudanese refugees fleeing violence in Darfur

In some cases, eyewitnesses say the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were behind the violence. The RSF is officially part of the Sudanese armed forces and is led by Daglo, widely known by his nickname Hemedti.

His forces have been accused of egregious attacks on civilians, including rape, across Sudan's conflict zones. More recently, they have been accused of leading the deadly June 3 raid on a Khartoum protest camp that killed around 130 people.

The most recent violence in El-Geneina reportedly grew out of a skirmish between two people, one of whom, an Arab, was stabbed to death.

Regal shared footage with the AP showing burning properties, as well as images of dead bodies and wounded people with blood-stained clothes.

Looting and destruction of property by militias took place in at least three refugee camps in El-Geneina in the past days, according to his aid group.

Two residents of the town told the AP that militias, mostly Arabs, had roamed the streets in pickup tricks with mounted machine guns, the favoured vehicle of state-armed militias in the past. The residents spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Regal directly accused the RSF of intervening in the fighting on the side of the Arab militias.

Such violence threatens Sudan's fragile path to democracy and attempts to make peace. It also calls into question a disarmament campaign launched in September by Sovereign Council head Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

Under the campaign, no one outside of the armed forces is allowed to own a weapon in Darfur.

Last week, the former headquarters of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) in Nyala, capital of South Darfur state, was looted.

The Nyala Super Camp and its assets worth a reported $100 million were handed over to Sudan's transitional government in November for civilian purposes only ahead of the anticipated departured of UNAMID troops next year.

UNAMID condemned the incident on Sunday, which it blamed on both civilians and "individuals in uniform".

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