Darfur: Radio Dabanga News Digest Number 28 | 6 November 2015: An ongoing chronicle of human suffering and destruction—and international indifference
This twenty-eighth installment of Darfur: Radio Dabanga News Digest focuses on events of the past two weeks, including violence and insecurity in Darfur and the continuing deterioration in humanitarian conditions throughout the region. The digest focuses in particular on the continuing brutal violence directed at the African farming populations in Darfur, including violent expropriation of farmlands. Also of particular concern are new humanitarian danger signals, including an apparent outbreak of Dengue Fever (a viral hemorrhagic fever in the same category as Ebola and Marburg) that may reach epidemic proportions. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicts a crop failure that may reach to 50 percent of the normal harvest. Continuing water shortages and provision of sanitary facilities are also of great concern. Rape in Darfur has been highlighted in a new report from WagingPeace, even as Darfur has endured an unusually large number of reported rapes over the past two weeks.
There is a compelling reason for focusing on the continuing brutal violence directed at the African farming populations in Darfur. The expropriation of land by armed Arab groups and militias, as well as the ways in which violence—including rape, murder, and kidnapping—are closely linked to efforts to prevent farmers from returning to their lands, and this is now the single greatest obstacle to peace. Moreover, crops are frequently destroyed by nomadic Arab groups that allow their livestock—chiefly cattle and camels—to forage over lands on which crops have begun to move toward harvest; this exacerbates already critical food insecurity.
Unless this pattern is changed decisively, and expropriated agricultural lands restored to their rightful owners, peace cannot come to Darfur. Those who have lost their lands will never accept a peace in which they are required to sacrifice their major livelihood asset; failure to address this issue realistically was the major flaw in both the Darfur Peace Agreement (Abuja 2006) and the so-called “Doha Document for Peace in Darfur” (Qatar, July 2011). The latter—which has provided a diplomatic excuse for inaction to many Western countries, including the U.S.—has now been dismissed as unworkable and useless by all good faith actors, again including the U.S. Only Khartoum cleaves to the Doha agreement as a means of avoiding true mediation of the 12-year-old conflict.
But there is a terrible obverse to the problem of restoring lands to the displaced African farming communities, now numbering more than 2.7 million Internally Displaced Persons, along with 370,000 Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad. For the Arab militias—including those formerly known as the Janjaweed, but also including the Central Reserve Police, the Border Intelligence Guard, the Popular Defense Forces, and most recently the grimly efficient and brutal Rapid Support Forces (RSF)—will not willingly give up land they now see as theirs. They believe they have been paid for service to Khartoum in fulfilling the August 2004 dictum from the Misteriha (North Darfur) headquarters of Musa Hilal: “Change the demography of Darfur; empty it of African tribes.”
Musa Hilal, the man who would “change the demography of Darfur,” and “empty it of African tribes”
Certainly the violent expropriation of land by Arab militias—and the violence attendant upon their efforts to prevent African farmers returning to their lands—have occurred with the clear approval of Khartoum, however chaotic the violence becomes at times. But if there can be no peace without a restoration of African farmlands, even if not complete, Khartoum’s sanctioning of Arab efforts to seize lands and use them as pasturage has created a situation the regime finds increasingly difficult to reverse. The militia forces that have done so much of the genocidal work of the regime consider these lands their “payments” for violent services rendered. Any attempt by Khartoum to induce the Arab militias to give up the lands they have claimed would produce a violent backlash, and involve the regime in a new war—this time against Arab groups as well as the present, largely African rebel groups.
A forthcoming report (“Changing the Demography: Violence and Violent Expropriation of Farmlands in Darfur”) will provide a series of maps indicating the patterns of violence and violent land expropriation over the past year—a year that largely replicates the one preceding and indeed much of the past four years of accelerating violence. Violence has for over a year been concentrated in North Darfur, in particular the area referred to as “Eastern Jebel Marra” (broadly, the part of North Darfur around Tawila—heartland of the Fur tribal group) and in Jebel Marra itself (now part of “Central Darfur,” previously West Darfur). But the extent of the violence, including inter-tribal violence between Arab groups, extends to all parts of Darfur.
“Change the demography of Darfur; empty it of African tribes”: what we have seen for the past four years and more is a renewed, and terrifyingly successful effort to change Darfur’s demography.
In the process, life in the camps for some 2.7 million displaced persons—in addition to the 370,000 Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad—has been made intolerable. More and more humanitarian organizations are withdrawing or shutting down, either for lack of funding or because of intolerable insecurity. Notable over the past year has been the shutdown of all operations in Darfur and Sudan by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Belgium because of insecurity, the withdrawal of Norwegian Church Aid for lack of funding, and the cessation of activity by several national NGOs. Altogether, more than thirty international humanitarian organizations have been expelled—or compelled to leave because of violence—and increasingly face funding shortages. Organizations that remain and are presently working in desperate circumstances deserve the most urgent support.
Throughout Darfur and indeed much of Sudan, various humanitarian indicators continue a relentless deterioration. Additionally, recent reports from OCHA present a truly terrifying portrait of malnutrition throughout Sudan, but especially in Darfur, where most of the region is indicated as suffering from Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates that are above the emergency humanitarian threshold; large excerpts from the report and commentary may be found here. Huge swathes of eastern Sudan, Blue Nile, and other areas also have GAM rates above the emergency threshold.
Despite the scale of the humanitarian and security needs in Darfur, the Khartoum regime remains in a state of adamant, at times viciously preposterous denial. Hostility to international relief efforts and UN/African Union peacekeeping mission remains unrelenting. Examples appear in the body of this digest.
[Because the News Digest now appears on a biweekly basis, dispatches will frequently be reduced to the title, the URL (always embedded in the title), and perhaps a key sentence—and much diminished commentary will be even briefer.]
[A note on Radio Dabanga’s use of the word “herder(s)”: confusingly, Radio Dabanga uses the word in two very different senses. On the one hand, it typically refers to Arab militia groups (as in “militant Abbala herders”—aeaning, armed Arab camel herders). On the other hand, it can occasionally refer to African farmers, who also herd livestock, as in a dispatch titled, “Two young herders die as Darfur’s East Jebel Marra shelled.” These two boys were African farmers, “herding” cattle when killed.]
[For previous Radio Dabanga Digests, see:
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 1 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1CD [28 February 2015]
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 2 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1De
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 3 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Dt
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 4 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ei
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 5 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1EL
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 6 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Fp [April 6, 2015]
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 7 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1FL
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 8 | http://wp.me/s45rOG-6452
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 9 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Gi
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 10 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Gt
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 11 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Hq [May 10, 2015]
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 12 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1HY
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 13 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ia
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 14 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1II
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 15 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ji
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 16 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1JU [June 14, 2015]
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 17 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Kp
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 18 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1L7
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 19 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Lm
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 20 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1LM
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 21 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Mv [August 2, 2015
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 22 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1MX
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 23 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Nr
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 24 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1NH
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 25 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1NT
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 26 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1O6 [October 11, 2015]
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 27 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Og
Darfur: Radio Dabanga Digest, Number 28 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Or
[All emphases in all quoted material (in bold) have been added; all editorial comments are in italics, in blue, with my initials following; a useful and quite recent administrative map of Darfur appears here.]
KHARTOUM’S ATTITUDE TOWARD DARFUR
Over the past year, Khartoum has repeatedly made clear its contempt for international humanitarian efforts in Darfur (expelling two senior UN humanitarian officials last December), for the UN/African Union “hybrid” Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), and for the people of Darfur—not least be denying they face insecurity and in one extraordinary moment declaring that the “Darfur displaced prefer aid to development,” as if life in the camps were somehow an easy ride that required no work.
President al-Bashir has repeatedly declared that “Darfur does not need UNAMID protection,” even as violence accelerates, particularly in the East Jebel Marra region. Khartoum is steadily increasing pressure on the UN and African Union to devise an “exit strategy,” pressure that recently took the form of withholding the transport of food supplies for UNAMID personnel. Although the food was eventually allowed into Darfur, a clear signal had been sent: “we can make your life in Darfur impossible whenever we choose.”
Containers at Port Sudan
Within Darfur, UNAMID is constantly denied access to camps and to areas where atrocities have been reported. The mission has already been cut by some 10,000 personnel, and many more are scheduled to leave within the year. Morale within UNAMID is disastrous in most locations, and there is little inclination to undertake missions that risk the attacks that have seen some 60 UNAMID personnel killed—most at the hands of Khartoum’s Arab militia proxies.
An Arab militiaman on camel-back; Arab militia forces have been responsible for a large majority of the most deadly attacks on UNAMID
The claim that “Darfur does not need UNAMID protection” is simply another way of putting pressure on the Mission to “exit.” But protection, real protection, is precisely what the people of Darfur need, and the lack of such explains too much of the violence and impunity that define the region today. Moreover, there is a continual “referendum” on the security of Darfur, conducted every day by the 370,000 Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad: they adamantly refuse to return to their lands and their country because insecurity is simply too great. And camps in eastern Chad are in many ways even less well served than those in Darfur itself. Recently, the UN’s World Food Program announced that there is no funding for continuing the provision of food to the refugee populations in the twelve refugee camps running north to south along the Chad/Sudan border. This comes on top of what have already been severe cuts to daily rations.
Despite the privation and extreme difficulty of life in eastern Chad, the refugees stay—and each day that they stay represents a collective judgment that as bad as life may be in Chad, the violent insecurity in Darfur is worse:
• Refugees in eastern Chad refuse to return to Darfur | November 1, 2015 | Eastern Chad
The Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad categorically refuse to join the voluntary repatriation programme in the current insecure climate. The refugees set the restoration of the rule of law, disarmament of the militias, prosecution of the perpetrators of war crimes, and compensation, as conditions for their voluntary return. A delegation of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and a representative of the Chadian government, held a meeting with refugee leaders in the Djabal camp on Tuesday concerning the voluntary repatriation programme, as agreed between the UNHCR and the Sudanese and Chadian authorities in September.
“They told us that a Sudanese delegation will visit the camps in November to prepare for the return of the refugees,” El Zein Mohamed Ahmed, Radio Dabanga correspondent in eastern Chad reported. “The refugee elders and sheikhs asserted their categorical rejection of the voluntary repatriation programme while the situation in most parts of Darfur is still extremely unsafe and insecure,” he said. “They told them the refugees will not welcome any delegation from the Khartoum regime, which is the main cause of their suffering.”
[It will bear close watching in the coming weeks and months to see if pressure from UNCHR and Déby regime in N’Djamena will be used to force returns. Such compelled repatriation clearly violates international humanitarian law–ER]
VIOLENCE, DESTRUCTION, AND LAND EXPROPRIATION
There is a particular perversity in the continuing violent expropriation of African farmland—used to grow grains, fruit, and vegetables—by Arab herders who use this productive land as areas for cattle and camel to forage. Much of the present harvest or near harvest has been destroyed, and feeding cattle and camels in such fashion is wildly inefficient; it is also immensely destructive for a country facing a potential crop failure of 50 percent according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Given Sudan’s extraordinarily high malnutrition rates, particularly among children and most particularly the children of Darfur, allowing the agricultural economy in Darfur to disintegrate is supremely callous. The agricultural economy includes markets, where farmers exchange goods and crops; increasingly these markets have been targeted by the Rapid Support Forces and other Arab militias, and in many areas markets that once flourished no longer exist (see below).
The destruction of the agricultural economy of Darfur is paralleled by the Khartoum regime’s gross mismanagement of the agricultural sector in Sudan generally. The Gezira scheme, once the crown jewel in Sudan’s agricultural economy, is in a state of rapid collapse. Land sales and long-term leasing of arable and pasturable land to foreign interests may provide the regime with short-term cash, but are mortgaging Sudan’s future food security.
But in Darfur, it is the violent transfer of land, and the violent prevention of farming activities, that is of most immediate concern. My forthcoming report (“Changing the Demography: Violence and Violent Expropriation of Farmlands in Darfur”) will survey the past year of such violence, which seems not to be a topic in policy discussions of Darfur and the possibilities for peace. And yet a failure to understand the nature and consequences of this “changed demography” make informed discussion impossible.
From just the past two weeks….
• Army, militia raid villages in Darfur’s East Jebel Marra | November 5, 2015 | East Jebel Marra
Two young women were gang-raped and four people were seriously injured in an attack by a joint force of Sudanese army troops, paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and gunmen on six villages in East Jebel Marra on Wednesday. Villagers told Radio Dabanga that a force of RSF paramilitaries in about 150 vehicles mounted with Dushka machine guns, backed by hundreds of gunmen riding camels and horses stormed the villages of Dubbo El Omda, Dubbo El Madrasa, Bali, Barkarawi, Wadi Ashara, and Mashrou Abu Zeid. “They abused and beat us, and robbed us of all our belongings and livestock,” one of them said.
He added that that two young women were gang-raped. “One of them, aged 18, was bleeding all night. She told her family that she did not want to live in this way. This (Thursday) morning, they found her hanging from a tree.” A large number of villagers sustained injuries. “Omar Yahya Adam (40), Zakiya Saleh Adam (25), and two children, Khalil Ibrahim Saleh (12) and Yagoub Adam Adam (10), were seriously wounded,” another villager reported.
Part of the force that swept through the villages came from the direction of El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, via Tawila, the villagers said. Others arrived from the direction of the South Darfur capital of Nyala, by the El Malam road. “They gathered at Dubbo El Omda at about 6 pm and pillaged it. From there they went to Dubbo El Madrasa and the other villages until Mashrou Abu Zeid.” The villagers said that after they fled to the neighbouring forests and valleys, the attackers occupied the water sources in the area, and barred the people from using them. They also drove their animals on the farmlands in the area. Large quantities of crops were destroyed.
[This joint attack by the Sudan Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces deserves highlighting: not only does it show the continuing close coordination of regular and militia forces, but was extraordinarily brutal and destructive, even by Darfur’s grim standards—ER]
• Large quantities of crops destroyed in South Darfur | November 5, 2015 | Nyala, South Darfur
The continued grazing of livestock on farms in the area east of the South Darfur capital of Nyala damaged large quantities of crops. Several farmers reported to Radio Dabanga that they lost this season’s crops in the area of Jumeiza, Humeida, Um Tireina, Kumisli, Taaisha and Baashom. Acres of millet, sorghum, sesame, black-eyed beans, okra, cucumbers, and watermelons were destroyed.
Camels are enormously destructive foragers on agricultural lands
• Herders expel farmers from their lands in South, North Darfur | October 28, 2015 | Gireida, South Darfur / Tawila, North Darfur
On Monday, armed herders released their livestock on farms in Gireida locality in South Darfur. The grazing has destroyed most of the crops. In Tawila, North Darfur, Abbala herdsmen assaulted and robbed farmers before driving them from their farms. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, one of the affected farmers reported that a group of armed herdsmen drove their camels and cattle onto farms in the areas of Kobe, Haraza, Dukour Nazalo, Um Mari, Sagor, Donki Abyad and Hashaba.
“They drove us from our farms with their whips. The livestock caused widespread damage to the crops,” he said. The farmer added that the tribal chief of the Masalit in Gireida, Abdelrahman Bakheet, reported the attack to the locality commissioner. “The commissioner said that he does not have the competence to intervene, arguing that he receives his orders from the State.” In the area of Hashaba village, southwest of Tawila in North Darfur, more than 11 farmers were injured when militant Abbala whipped them. The attackers robbed them of their money, mobiles phones, tools, and food, before driving camels and cattle onto the farms.
• Abbala herdsmen attack farmers in Tawila, North Darfur | October 29, 2015 | Tawila, North Darfur
Abbala herders have been attacking farmers in Tawila locality, North Darfur, for three consecutive days. Several farmers reported to Radio Dabanga from the area of Nemra (traditionally considered part of East Jebel Marra) that the herders began driving their livestock onto their farms on Monday. “For three days, they have beaten and expelled farmers from their lands in the areas of Abu Zeid, Masalit, Dali, Dubbo El Omda, Dubbo El Madrasa, Burra, Barkandi, Angar Ronga, Nemra, and Katur,” they said.
Vast tracts of millet, sorghum, sesame, fava beans, and melons were damaged. The farmers reported the attacks to the commissioner of Tawila locality, and the authorities in El Fasher, North Darfur, to no avail. This week, Abbala launched widespread attacks too on farms in North Darfur´s Kutum locality. Their livestock, released onto the farmlands destroyed most of the crops. Ten days ago, another group of Abbala entered their camels and cattle onto farmlands near Nyala, capital of South Darfur. Herders from other tribes also began entering their livestock onto farmlands in other parts of Darfur lately.
In its Food Security Outlook Update for September, the Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS Net) warned for the possibility of conflicts erupting between herders and farmers. Below-average rainfall this year resulted in bad pasture conditions, as well as delayed planting and poor crop growth in many Sudanese regions. An increased risk of crop failures and low production surpluses are expected for the delayed harvest at the end of this year. Herders migration usually takes place in December and January, with livestock arriving during or just after this harvest period. As crops are now in an earlier stage of development, there is a higher risk of crops being accidentally destroyed or consumed by livestock, FEWS Net stated.
[While FEWSNet may be accurate in a narrow sense, the assessment offered here takes no account of the pattern of violent land expropriation and destruction by Arab militias that goes back many years—ER]
An Arab militia force
• Tracts of Darfur farmland damaged by livestock | November 2, 2015 | Garsila / Zalingei (formerly West Darfur) / Mershing (South Darfur) / Kutum (North Darfur)
Herders continued driving their cattle and camels onto farms in Central, South, and North Darfur over the weekend. The grazing damaged vast tracts of farmland. Farmers in Garsila locality, Central Darfur, face fierce herder attacks on their farms, one of them reported to Radio Dabanga. “During the latest incident on Saturday, militant herders beat and whipped a number of farmers near Garsila, including Koran reciter Mohamed Adam, El Taher Eisa, and Fatima Hassan,” he said. “The grazing destroyed most of our crops.”
In Kedelangi, Zalingei locality, farmers were forced to flee, when militant herders, firing heavily in the air, released their livestock onto their farms. An affected farmer told Radio Dabanga that fields with sorghum, fava beans, and okra were destroyed. He said that they informed the authorities in Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur, but “none of them acted so far”.
A number of farmers in Mershing locality in South Darfur were wounded during several fierce attacks by herdsmen last week. “Mohamed Ibrahim Shumu sustained serious injuries,” a villager reported. He said they filed several complaints to the authorities however they did not move to protect them.
Abbala herdsmen continued to expel villagers from their farms, gardens, and orchards in Kutum locality, North Darfur over the weekend. The grazing destroyed large quantities of sorghum and fava beans, a farmer told Radio Dabanga from Kassab village. Because of the late and less than average rainfall in various parts of Sudan, there is less and poorer quality pasture available. As a result, herders increasingly drive their livestock onto cultivated farms.
• More farms destroyed in North Darfur’s Kutum | November 1, 2015 | Kutum
Abbala herdsmen continued to release their livestock on farmlands in Kutum locality last week. Farmers living in areas north and east of Kutum town told Radio Dabanga that militant Abbala tribesmen continued to expel them from their lands by force of arms last week. “They attacked farms near Karkawi, Kassab, Beeri. El Gubba, Nady, Korkei, and Tora from Tuesday to Friday. The grazing destroyed large tracts of farmland and a number of orchards in these areas,” one of them reported.
• North Darfur farmers abducted in Saraf Umra | October 25, 2015 | Saraf Umra, North Darfur
Gunmen kidnapped three residents of the Dankoj camp for the displaced in Saraf Umra locality on Saturday. The same day, aircraft of the Sudanese Air Force searched the area near Saraf Umra town for a Ukrainian pilot and a Sudanese translator who were reportedly taken to the area after being abducted in West Darfur a week ago.
The coordinator of the Saraf Umra camps, Sheikh Abdelrazeg Yousef Suleiman, reported to Radio Dabanga that Haroun and Omar Hassan, and Hafiz Yousef Adam were kidnapped as they worked their farms in Wadi Bari, south of Saraf Umra.
• Herdsmen attack villages, torch houses in Kutum, North Darfur | October 25, 2015 | Kutum, North Darfur
Militant Abbala tribesmen attacked three villages in the area of Tima in Kutum locality on Saturday. Two women were injured. 250 house huts burned to ashes. The day before they drove their camels onto farms in the area. All the crops were destroyed. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, a resident of Tima village reported that a large group of Abbala herders stormed the villages of Tima, Shagargali, and Geidaba, about 80 km northeast of Kutum. “The Janjaweed torched 100 residential huts in Tima, 70 in Shagargali, and 45 in Geidaba village,” he said. “In Tima, they also whipped two women severely. Taja Yagoub Bashar (35) and Fatima Suleiman Bashar (30) had to be transferred to Mellit hospital for treatment.” The villager said that most of the people fled to the neighbouring hills, and appealed through Radio Dabanga to the UN to protect them from further attacks. He added that all of the crops were destroyed after the Abbala released their camels onto farms in the area on Friday and Saturday.
• Herders’ attacks continue on North Darfur villages | October 26, 2015 | Kutum, North Darfur
For the second consecutive day, militant Abbala herders have attacked villages in the area northeast of Kutum in North Darfur. Fleeing villagers told Radio Dabanga that a large group of Abbala gunmen raided the villages of Debbat Naira Hillet Hamed Zakaria, and Hillet Deli Tibin at about 3 pm on Sunday.”
Abbala in seven vehicles mounted with Dushka machineguns, and others on camels, torched all the houses,” one of the victims reported. He said that the militant herdsmen gathered at Amarei village today. “The people of Amarei also fled to the hills and valleys in the vicinity.” The villager explained that the aim of the militants is to “entirely empty the area of its inhabitants, and to weaken them by robbing them of all their possessions and livestock, and destroying their farms.” On Friday and Saturday, the Abbala drove their camels onto farms in the area. On Saturday, they torched a large number of houses in the villages of Tima, Shagargali, and Geidaba, about 80 km northeast of Kutum.
• Market plundered, nomads robbed in North Darfur’s Tawila | October 30, 2015 | Tawila, North Darfur
On Thursday, a large group of gunmen plundered the market of Katur in Tawila locality, North Darfur. A passer-by sustained serious bullet wounds. Later that day, men in military uniforms robbed the inhabitants of pastoralists’ settlements north of Katur of all their belongings. “About 45 gunmen riding camels stormed the market, 45 kilometres west of Tabit, at 8 am this (Thursday) morning,” an affected shop owner reported to Radio Dabanga. “While threatening to shoot anyone who would dare to intervene, they broke the locks of more than 25 shops. They took all the commodities from the shops, such as foodstuffs, clothes, shoes, and other goods, and loaded them on their camels,” he said.
[Although long an acute threat to Darfur’s agricultural economy, attacks such as this are becoming increasingly common and threaten to collapse the essential market system altogether—ER]
• Militiamen wreak havoc in Kabkabiya, North Darfur | November 4, 2015 | Kabkabiya, North Darfur
On Tuesday, a group of militiamen assaulted and robbed a man in Kabkabiya, North Darfur, and kidnapped a tea seller. This morning, they abused the remaining vendors at the weekly Kabkabiya farmers’ market and destroyed their products.
• Abduction, goats stolen in North Darfur camp | October 27, 2015 | Kassab, North Darfur
Gunmen abducted a displaced man of Kassab camp near his farm in Kutum locality in North Darfur on Sunday. A day later, a shepherd from the camp was shot and robbed of hundreds of goats he herded for other displaced people. A displaced woman in Kassab told Radio Dabanga that five pro-government militiamen in a Land Cruiser accused Idris Abdallah Babakir of stealing their goats and attacked him on Sunday evening as he made his way to his farm. Abdallah Babakir was severely beaten and put into the vehicle.
The militiamen drove him to Damrat El Signi and claimed that he has been stealing their goats for two months. The woman said that Abdallah Babakir was released late on Monday. Militiamen shot goat herder Fathi Babikir Ahmed from Kassab, on Monday. He was seriously injured and taken to the hospital in Kutum for treatment. A Sheikh in the camp reported to Radio Dabanga that the gunmen robbed him of more than 300 goats that belong to the displaced people of Kassab.
• Herders, army clash in Sirba, West Darfur | October 29, 2015 | Sirba, West Darfur
On Tuesday afternoon, armed herders entered the area of Armenkol, and beat the farmers,” the coordinator of the Sirba camps for the displaced told Radio Dabanga. “After the farmers fled, they released their camels and cattle onto the farms. “The affected farmers reported the attack to the commander of the nearby military garrison, who immediately sent troops to the farms. As soon as they arrived, the herders started shooting. In the ensuing fire fight, one herder was killed,” he said. The soldiers managed to drive the livestock from the farms, into the garrison.
RAPE AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN DARFUR: A CONTINUING WEAPON OF WAR
• Six women, some minors, raped this week in Darfur | October 28, 2015 | East Jebel Marra
• South Darfur girl of 10 dies after gang-rape | November 2, 2015 | Gireida, South Darfur
A 10-year-old girl succumbed to her injuries after she was gang-raped, together with her mother, east of Gireida in South Darfur on Sunday. “Four militiamen wearing military uniforms and riding horses attacked the girl and her mother while they tended their farm in Wadi Tawil, seven kilometres east of Gireida,” a villager reported to Radio Dabanga. “They raped them alternately.”
• Herders abduct, “beat” sisters in North Darfur’s Tawila | November 2, 2015 | Tawila, North Darfur
Militant Abbala herders abducted two sisters near Tawila in North Darfur on Monday. They were found “severely beaten.” The women’s father told Radio Dabanga that Abbala tribesmen ambushed the sisters and two other young women. They were collecting firewood and straw, together with their grandmother, in the area of Logli, west of Tawila.
• Killing, gang-rape near Tabit in North Darfur | November 4, 2015 | Tabit, North Darfur
A man was killed and two young women were gang-raped in the area south of Tabit in Tawila locality, North Darfur, on Tuesday. “Janjaweed riding camels ambushed two of El Nur Ahmed’s nieces on Tuesday afternoon. They were tending our farm near Beji village, 15 kilometres south of Tabit,” a relative of the victims informed Radio Dabanga.
• Woman shot, raped in West Darfur | November 1, 2015 | Foro Banga, West Darfur
On Saturday, two militiamen raped a woman in Foro Baranga locality, West Darfur. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, a relative of the victim reported that two militiamen ambushed the woman and her two daughters, as they were returning from their farm near Ras El Fil. “When they tried to flee, one of the attackers fired at them, hitting the mother in her legs. Her daughters managed to escape,” he said. “The men then raped the mother alternately despite her injuries and bleeding feet.”
• 49 women raped in Tabit, Darfur, over the past year | October 31, 2015 | Tabit / Khartoum
Today marks one year after Tabit in North Darfur witnessed a mass rape of more than 200 girls and women. At least 49 women have been raped in the vicinity of the village over the past year, according to Radio Dabanga reports.
[This dispatch as it continues provides the context for several reports on rape in Darfur that have appeared this year—ER:
An incident between a Sudanese soldier and a woman in Tabit, on a Thursday night in October 2014, led to a mass rape in the village over a 36-hour period. The soldier went missing and in what later became known as a retaliation act, military forces from the nearby garrison entered Tabit the following day. They suspected the local population for being responsible for his disappearance. Men and women were forced out of their houses and separated. While a number of soldiers held the men outside of town and threatened them, others sexually abused more than 200 girls and women, until they left the village early next morning.
• Mass Rape in North Darfur: Sudanese Army Attacks Against Civilians in Tabit | Human Rights Watch, February 11, 2015
Over the course of 36 hours beginning on October 30, 2014, Sudanese army troops carried out a series of attacks against the civilian population of the town of Tabit in North Darfur, Sudan. The attacks included the mass rape of women and girls and the arbitrary detention, beating and ill-treatment of scores of people. The government of Sudan has denied that any crimes occurred and has prevented the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) from carrying out a credible investigation of the incident.
From research conducted remotely in November and December 2014, this report documents 27 first-hand accounts of rape, often by multiple perpetrators, and credible information about an additional 194 incidents of rape. Based on more than 130 interviews, the report provides a detailed account of the serious violations of international law that took place in Tabit from October 30 to November 1.
Sudanese government forces carried out the rapes and other abuses during three distinct military operations against the town during the 36-hour period: the first beginning the evening of Thursday, October 30; the second on the morning of Friday, October 31; and the third starting that evening and continuing until the following morning, November 1. Human Rights Watch found no evidence of a presence of any rebel force in the town immediately prior to or during the attacks.
[The Khartoum regime continues to deny adamantly that any of this occurred; the regime also refuses to allow an independent investigation in Tabit, in part because international and UN demands have been so painfully feeble—ER]
• Rape in Darfur: A History of Predation | Waging Peace, November 2015
This brief reports highlights the brutality of rape as a weapon on war, and the characteristic ethnic hatred defining sexual violence in Darfur:
- “After five hours…the child [11 years old] completely lost her consciousness, but he did not spare her.” “They raped eight women in front of my eyes, and then three of the, alternately, raped me…I couldn’t run because I was pregnant.”
- “They are cursing us, calling us ‘blacks,’ “dirty,’ and ‘slaves.” We will leave you nothing to eat, except your dogs or the flying locusts, and we will leave you the rope beds.”
- “‘You are from the Zaghawa [non-Arab/African tribal group], you are a Tora Bora [rebel] woman,’ and then they cursed us saying, ‘You dirty women, we are going to kill your men and leave you with nothing.’”
• Dispatches: UN’s Responsibility to Darfur’s Rape Victims, October 27, 2015 | by Akshaya Kumar/Human Rights Watch
The vulnerability of women in Darfur simply cannot be overstated
OTHER NOTABLE VIOLENCE IN DARFUR
• 21 killed, injured in South Darfur missile attack | November 4, 2015 | Deribat, South Darfur
• Darfur crime overview: Travellers robbed in Tawila, Nierteti | November 2, 2015 | Tawila / Nierteti, North Darfur
• Darfur crime overview: Armed robberies in Central, South Darfur | October 26, 2015 | Kass / Nierteti / Bindisi
• Student dies in South Darfur armed robbery | October 27, 2015 | Kass, South Darfur
HUMANITARIAN CONDITIONS/CRISES IN DARFUR
[The outbreak of viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF): Khartoum has been painfully slow to respond to the threat of VHF, with several clear warnings last year (see below). Reporting on whether the viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) is indeed Dengue Fever or some other strain has been confused, and so dispatches are offered here in reverse chronological order—ER]
• Sudanese, WHO officials inspect health situation in West Darfur | Sudan Tribune | November 4, 2015 | Khartoum
Sudanese state health minister Hisham Nurain and director of World Health Organization (WHO)’s office in Sudan Naeema Hassan Al-Gaseer fly Thursday to West Darfur following as the government admitted the spread of Dengue fever. WHO confirmed that 103 persons have been died of haemorrhagic fever in the western region of Darfur.
It further said that 182 suspected cases were reported in the five Darfur states. West Darfur state has the highest number of cases 110. Nurain on Wednesday said the international official, the head of emergencies at the ministry of health and himself will visit El-Geneina hospital and Habilah county to inspect the health situation.
The visit comes two days after the denial by federal health ministry of haemorrhagic fever outbreak. On Wednesday, health minister Bahar Idriss Abu Garada renewed the denial of haemorrhagic fever but admitted the spread of dengue fever in the region.
[Such denial is absurd, and so too is the denial of viral hemorrhagic fever even as the presence of Dengue Fever (a strain of VHF) is acknowledged; such confusion and automatic denial is entirely characteristic of the regime—ER]
• “Rampant Dengue fever” in Darfur states | November 3, 2015 | Khartoum / El Geneina, West Darfur
The Federal Ministry of Health reported a high number of people infected with Dengue fever in Darfur states, amounting to 203 confirmed cases as of Monday. 83 people reportedly died in West Darfur state. The director of the Ministry’s epidemiology department, Babiker El Magboul pointed out that the average of daily reported cases was reduced to 2 to 4 cases per day. He claimed, however, that the spread of infections has reached “an epidemic stage”: “Two deaths were recorded over the past week, they were diagnosed for Dengue fever and malaria.” A team of international experts of the World Health Organization (WHO) has arrived in Khartoum on Sunday, to assess the health situation and medical needs in Darfur states. The West Darfur Minister of Health, Hisham Nurein, reported a high number of fatal and confirmed cases: 83 people have died from Dengue fever in the state. Most of them (75) died in Kereinik locality, seven in El Geneina, and one in Habila. The number of confirmed and suspected Dengue cases has risen to 127 people, Nurein reported, including 19 suspected cases in El Geneina and one in Habila. 107 cases were reported in Kereinik.
• Sudanese Ministry of Health reports Dengue fever in Darfur | November 2, 2015 | Khartoum / Zalingei
The under-secretary of the Sudanese Ministry of Health announced that samples taken from patients in West and Central Darfur tested positive on Dengue fever. Dr Esam Abdallah acknowledged the spread of more viruses in Darfur, but said that most of the patients in the region are afflicted with malaria. In a press statement on Sunday, the under-secretary explained that Dengue fever is caused by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is responsible for the transmission of Yellow fever and Dengue fever. He announced that medical teams were sent to Darfur to investigate the cases and provide treatment. The Central Darfur Minister of Health, Eisa Mohamed Mousa, confirmed to Radio Dabanga the high incidence of haemorrhagic fever cases in the state. He said that all the cases are concentrated in the Hamidia, Hasahisa, and Teiba camps for the displaced in Zalingei locality.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan stated in its weekly bulletin last week that according to the Health Ministry, a total of 182 suspected VHF cases, including 103 deaths, were reported in the five Darfur states from 29 August to 25 October. Of the 36 samples taken from suspected cases and people who had contact with them, and tested at the Central Public Health Laboratory in Khartoum, eight samples from Central, West, and North Darfur tested positive for West Nile virus, while four samples from West and Central Darfur tested positive for Chikungunya virus, OCHA reported. None of the samples tested positive for Yellow fever, Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever, Dengue Fever, or Rift Valley fever, according to the Central Khartoum Laboratory.
• Sudan, WHO confirm outbreak of haemorrhagic fever in Darfur | October 30, 2015 | Khartoum
The slowness of Khartoum’s response should be seen in light of these 2014 dispatches from Radio Dabanga:
• Health Ministry registers haemorrhagic fever in North Darfur | November 14, 2014 | El Fasher
The North Darfur Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) have reported that 81 cases of haemorrhagic fever were registered between 28 August and 5 November in El Fasher, Dar El Salam, Kuma, and Tina localities. This includes three fatal cases. An overwhelming 95 percent of the potentially fatal haemorrhagic cases is from El Fasher locality, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported in its news bulletin this week. The most cases, a total number of 35, in the four localities were reported two weeks ago. 15 out of 22 blood samples tested positive for dengue fever. The results of re-confirmation tests by the WHO are expected to be released soon, the humanitarian office writes.
• Hemorrhagic fever spreads in Sudan’s South Kordofan | November 11, 2014 | Kadugli, South Kordofan
People in Kadugli, Abu Jubaiha, and Habila localities in South Kordofan have complained about the outbreak of an unknown fever. Meanwhile, the state’s Health Minister acknowledged the spread of the potentially fatal hemorrhagic fever, and stated that a medical team have been sent to the affected localities.
A number of residents revealed that the symptoms of this disease are high fever, vomiting, and headaches. It has led to “a high mortality rate”, they told Radio Dabanga. The residents pointed to the shortage of medicines and health care. “The state authorities ignored us despite the repeated complaints.” South Kordofan’s Minister of Health said that the government has sent medical teams to the affected areas.
• Fever claims lives of three displaced in South Darfur camp | October 31, 2014 | Kalma / El Fasher
Three women have died as a result of an unknown fever in Kalma camp, South Darfur. The North Darfur Ministry of Health has pledged to fill the gap of health services in the state by constructing health units in El Fasher. The Secretary-General of the camp, east of Nyala city, reported the deaths of Aziza Ibrahim Bakaht, Maryam Mohamad Hamid, and the 11-year-old Jawahir Abdallah Hilal on Wednesday. Saleh Issa added that the symptoms of the disease are headache, severe fever, diarrhoea, and bleeding from the nose and mouth. He pointed out that many of the cases have been reported to the camp administration.
In June this year, Radio Dabanga reported that an unknown disease claimed the lives of 18 people living in Kalma during one month. The symptoms of this disease were a loss of appetite, headache, pain in the chest, diarrhoea, vomiting, and a high fever.
• UNICEF warns of polio outbreak in Sudan | October 26, 2015 | Khartoum
The UNICEF representative in Sudan warned that polio may break out in the country’s conflict-affected regions. Speaking on the occasion of the World Polio Day on Saturday, UNICEF representative Geert Cappelaere said that 99.9 percent of the work to eradicate polio worldwide is done, but a significant part of the remaining work lies in Sudan. More than 200,000 children under five in Blue Nile state, the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, and Jebel Marra in Darfur have not received a polio vaccinations for the past four years.
[NB: This failure to vaccinate children is entirely the result of Khartoum’s devastating humanitarian blockade on the areas referred to in this dispatch. The consequences of the regime’s brutal blockade could be catastrophic for the efforts to eradicate polio—ER]
• Malaria, maternal deaths in South Darfur camp | November 3, 2015 | Nyala, South Darfur
The number of mortality cases has risen in one of the camps for displaced people in Nyala locality, South Darfur, because of the spread of malaria and a lack of health care…
• Increase in malaria, poor health care in South Darfur’s Tullus | October 29, 2015 | Tullus, South Darfur
[Those weakened by prior disease or malnutrition are especially vulnerable to malaria—ER]
• Whooping cough outbreak in North Darfur’s El Sereif | November 5, 2015 | El Sereif Beni Hussein, North Darfur
As of 28 October, 410 cases of whooping cough have been reported in El Sereif Beni Hussein locality, according to the Sudanese Ministry of Health.
• Deadly disease still unidentified in North Darfur’s Saraf Umra | November 6 – 2015 SARAF UMRA
• “Nearly all toilets out of use” in Darfur’s Nyala camp | November 3, 2015 | Nyala, South Darfur
Problems with the water supply in a camp near Nyala, South Darfur, have caused toilets to overflow and lead to a spread of illnesses.
• Thirst in Tabit, North Darfur | November 2, 2015 | Tawila, North Darfur
[The numerous reports and repeated warnings of water shortages throughout Darfur have gone largely unheeded by the international community; yet drinking unclean water is one of the primary causes of disease among people of all ages—ER]
• South Darfur authorities report large drinking water shortage | October 30, 2015 | Nyala, South Darfur
Waiting for water in Darfur
• 45,000 orphans in South Darfur | November 2, 2015 | Nyala, South Darfur
[This figure, from the Ministry of Social Affairs, is certainly a gross underestimate: orphans have been created in staggering numbers over the past twelve years, and pose one of the most difficult problems for already overburdened families in camps. We have no accurate census of orphans, and any organization promulgating a meaningful estimate and/or data would likely be expelled from Darfur. Like rape, malnutrition, and mortality, the orphan population is a topic on which the Khartoum is especially restrictive—ER]
• Dozens of Darfuri students injured in Omdurman | October 26, 2015 | Omdurman
• Darfuri students barred from Holy Koran University | October 28, 2015 | Omdurman
• Darfuri students detained, wounded, missing in Omdurman | October 27, 2015 | Omdurman
• Central Darfur military intelligence detains displaced man | October 23, 2015 | Nierteti, formerly West Darfur
• Sudanese Baath Party condemns “targeting of Darfuri students“ | October 30, 2015 | Khartoum
• First Darfur students on trial in Omdurman | November 2, 2015 | Omdurman
• Security arrests Sudan opposition in Khartoum | October 27, 2015 | Khartoum
• Five Sudanese activists held incommunicado in Khartoum | October 29, 2015 | Khartoum
• Sudan’s HAC closes Mahas club in Khartoum | October 28, 2015 | Khartoum
• “India must arrest Sudan’s Al Bashir”: ICC | October 28, 2015 | The Hague
Of course India did not arrest al-Bashir, and thus joined a list of nations that deserve strenuous condemnation for their indifference to the meaning of the arrest warrants for genocide and crimes against humanity that have been issued by the International Criminal Court. The list now includes 19 countries:
Democratic Republic of Congo