Massive Violence in the Greater Jebel Marra Area Elicits No Response from UNAMID
Eric Reeves | May 1, 2018 | https://wp.me/p45rOG-2eZ
As violence against civilians continues to rage throughout the Jebel Marra regions of Central and South Darfur, as well as in areas further away (particularly Kass in South Darfur and areas of East Jebel Marra in North Darfur), the international community seems yet again paralyzed—and no part of that “community” more so than the feckless, poorly led, and thoroughly incapable UN/African Union “Peacekeeping” Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). Sudan Tribune reports that:
The commander of Darfur hybrid peacekeeping force Lieutenant-General, Leonard Ngondi Monday inspected the ongoing works to establish a new base in Jebel Marra. In a brief note released on Twitter, the UNMAID said Ngondi visited Golo where he “inspected progress made in the construction of the Mission’s Temporary Operating Base in the area…” released a picture of the new base in Golo saying it is “a key part of the Jebel Marra Task Force” to improve security conditions and enhance the protection of civilians in Jebel Marra. (Sudan Tribune, “UNAMID force commander visits Jebel Marra’s new base,” May 1, 2018)
Ngondi has said nothing about the weeks of violence that have involved massive attacks on villages in the Feina area of South Darfur or more recently the northeastern area of Central Darfur. UNAMID impotence and incompetence has never been more spectacularly in evidence. Radio Dabanga reports additional details today on the fighting north of Rokoro—about 20 miles from the UNAMID Temporary Operating Base (TOB) in Golo (TOB is a misnomer on several counts). The base has not been fully constructed—let alone staffed—almost a year after the reconfiguration of UNAMID; the “reconfiguration” was dictated by the drastic downsizing of military and police personnel tied to the June 2017 re-authorization of UNAMID by the UN Security Council. The Khartoum regime has all too predictably delayed, obstructed, and otherwise hindered the establishment of the Golo TOB because of its location and ability to monitor—if it were so inclined—violence of precisely the sort we see continuing, and now entering its third month.
Instead, UNAMID and its “partners” are engaged in a grotesque game of self-congratulation, reported April 9, 2018 by Radio Dabanga from Khartoum (“Coordination Mechanism on UNAMID: ‘Situation in Darfur improved significantly’”):
On Sunday, representatives of the Sudanese government, the AU and the UN met in Khartoum for the 25th meeting of the Tripartite Coordination Mechanism on the UN-AU peacekeeping Mission in Darfur. In their opening remarks, the representatives of the Sudanese government, the AU, and UN reflected a spirit of cooperation and readiness to continue working together as Tripartite Coordination Mechanism, to ensure the effective implementation of the peacekeeping mission’s mandate in Darfur, UNAMID reported in a statement on Sunday.
The happy and self-satisfied men of the “Tripartite Coordination Mechanism”
They also appreciated efforts made so far in this regard and encouraged the technical level of the tripartite mechanism to continue its good work on the issues at hand. The discussions further touched on the operational and strategic issues pertaining to UNAMID’s effective mandate implementation, and observed improvements in this regard, the statement reads.
This might be amusing if not for the fact that this absurd commentary on the situation in Darfur puts many tens of thousands of people in the general Jebel Marra region at greatly increased danger. Humanitarian access is desperately needed, a fact patently obvious since late March (see below).
The motive for this deeply distorted representation of Darfur’s realities is not hard to discern: both the African Union and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) are desperate to put a “happy face” on continuing genocidal violence in Darfur in advance of the June 2018 Security Council debate about whether and in what form to renew the mandate for UNAMID, one of the very most expensive and arguably the least effective mission in UN peacekeeping history. With a growing demand for peacekeepers—and funding for such—in other theaters, Darfur is being consigned to some pathetic rump of a failed mission:
The participants of the meeting agreed on the significant improvement of the security and humanitarian situation in Darfur, which is creating conditions for a further substantial reconfiguration [i.e., reduction] of UNAMID.
This and the vague, euphemistic, and self-satisfied language that follows has a single purpose: to justify reducing UNAMID even further, despite the fact the Mission lost 40 percent of its military personnel and 33 percent of its police personnel with the last “reconfiguration.” The reason is pressure from the Khartoum regime, which wishes for the final removal of UNAMID, the closing of camps for displaced persons, and an end to the international humanitarian presence in Darfur:
The Sudanese authorities began to push for the exit of UNAMID in end 2014, after the peacekeeping mission urged an investigation into a mass rape in North Darfur’s Tabit on October 31 that year [a mass rape of over 200 girls and women–never investigated by UNAMID, despite unctuous words–but confirmed fully by Human Rights Watch in a February 2015 report].
Heavy fighting in the Jebel Marra region has occurred every dry season since early 2016. That campaign was chronicled in detail by Amnesty International, including Khartoum’s undeniable use of chemical weapons against civilians (September 2016). This year’s campaign by Khartoum’s regular Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and militia force of choice—the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)—dates to early March and it matters little whether we assign blame for initiating the fighting to the rebel forces of Sudan Liberation Army/Abdel Wahid el-Nur (SLA/AW) or Khartoum. The latter was determined to confront the last elements of rebel forces, and the massive assault on civilians that has accompanied Khartoum’s campaign against the rebels signals the real, finally genocidal assault on the predominantly (non-Arab/African) Fur people of Jebel Marra.
Massive violence directed against primarily Fur villages that have the misfortune of being vaguely proximate to rebel forces is emblematic of how the entire genocidal counter-insurgency has been conducted by the Khartoum regime: it is convinced that if the civilian base of “support” for the rebels is destroyed, their military opposition will wither.
The earliest dispatch giving clear indication of Khartoum’s ambitions was in early March:
Three villagers were wounded during clashes between government forces and rebel combatants in South Darfur’s East Jebel Marra on Friday. A relative of one of the victims told Radio Dabanga that Ishag Idris, Daoud Haroun, and Hussein Hamid were injured when they were caught in an exchange of fire between members of the Sudan Liberation Movement, led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW), and government troops on Friday evening.
“They were hit by bullets in the area of Jawa, 15 km south of Deribat,” he said. “Luckily, they could be transferred to Rabkona, west of Jawa, for treatment.” Since the start of the war in Darfur in 2003, the area of Jawa has been one of the strongholds of the SLM-AW, that had its base in Jebel Marra itself.
In 2016, more than 80,000 people were displaced by a major military offensive by the Sudanese government against the holdout rebels in the mountainous region of the Jebel Marra. According to the spokesman for the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, Sudan’s main militia, in February 2017, Darfur became “free of armed movements, suspects, and outlaws, except for a small group [part of the SLM-AW] stationed at the top of Jebel Marra.” (Radio Dabanga, March 12, 2018)
This last military assessment hardly explains why villages in the area east of Jebel Marra in South Darfur have been assaulted (see below). Nor does it explain why civilians and their villages have been so relentlessly and remorselessly attacked both last dry (fighting) season and the current one (which will end sometime in June).
The U.S. State Department has condemned the violence without putting blame squarely where it belongs, on the Khartoum regime. Nonetheless, the statement issued by the State Department does call for immediate humanitarian access to the tens of thousands who have been displaced over the past three dry season campaigns—but of course the obstacle to that access is Khartoum, and there are no signs that the State Department if prepared to confront the regime forcefully if it continues to deny humanitarian access.
That UNAMID has not yet even reported on the violence that is occurring so close to its TOB in Golo, Jebel Marra, simply deepens the disgrace that will define this Mission for as long as there is a history of UN peacekeeping.
What follows is what has been reported from the ground, with remarkable consistency, by Radio Dabanga; I have organized the dispatches chronologically from early March. Because the geography is so specific and often entails references to villages that appear on almost no maps, a compendium of screenshots of various detailed maps, with highlighted locations, has been included as Appendix A. The dispatches have been edited to foreshorten them; all commentary in blue bold italics is mine.
The barbarism of the assaults on civilians is as vicious as anything we have seen in the past fifteen years, and yet there is no deterrent—and there is no accountability. The indiscriminate use of rockets and missiles and artillery has fully taken the place of indiscriminate aerial bombardment, which Khartoum refrains from using only to ensure that U.S. economic sanctions remain lifted.
What emerges from these serial dispatches is a ghastly glimpse into the heart of ongoing genocide:
• SRF condemns government raid on Central Darfur village – Video | Radio Dabanga, March 14, 2018 | ARTALA, Central Darfur
The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) has strongly condemned attacks by Sudanese government forces on the inhabitants of Artala village in Central Darfur. A statement issued by the Revolutionary Front said that the tribal militias of the government and its security services gathered the residents of the village in a humiliating manner after they were confirmed to be free of weapons, beat them with whips and seized their property. Mohamed Zakariya, the spokesman for the SRF, described what happened to the residents of the village as “a shameful state crime against unarmed people and a blatant violation of the rights of citizenship.”
Asa reported yesterday by Radio Dabanga, Members of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) stationed at Deribat in Darfur’s east Jebel Marra stormed the weekly village market [see Map One], assaulted the people, arrested eight of them and injured six others on Sunday morning.
• Civilians dead, many left homeless as Sudan forces strafe rebel positions in Darfur’s Jebel Marra | Radio Dabanga, March 22, 2018 | JEBEL MARRA
Three civilians were shot dead and 12 others were wounded in an attack launched by government troops and militia at Feina and Dawa areas in East Jebel Marra [in South Darfur; see Map One] on Wednesday morning. Witnesses have reported “heavy military casualties” but no exact figures are available yet. The areas are the last stronghold of the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW) south of Jebel Marra. Reports of many displaced continue to reach this station (see pictures). Ezzeldin Sambala, the movement’s military spokesman, told Radio Dabanga that “the government forces attacked the movement’s positions, which led to the displacement of civilians from their homes.” He said that villages were burned and the livestock seized. It is a humanitarian disaster for the people.
The destruction of Feina, East Jebel Marra
He stressed that the clashes are continuing between the two sides and appealed to the international community and humanitarian organisations to urgently intervene to rescue the civilians.
He pointed to the large-scale deployment of government forces and militias around Jebel Marra from the east and south, including the areas of the movement of Libei, Sawani and Rabkona, Fouli, Duwa, Feina and Kidinir [see Map One]. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that the clashes between the government forces and the movement at Feina area south of Jebel Marra has forced the population to flee the mountain caves for security and protection. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that at 6 am on Wednesday the government forces attacked Feina area using armoured vehicles, grenades, and heavy guns. They said the clashes are known to have left three civilians dead, including Khadija Eisa Yousef, Ayoub Yousef Suleiman and Adam Khidir Suleiman. The witnesses confirmed that the government forces entered Feina area and now control it completely.
Callers reported dozens of deaths and injuries between the two sides in the battle in addition to the destruction of many vehicles and much military equipment. Information from Jebel Marra reported that the government forces launched a large-scale campaign on the SLM lands in east and south Jebel Marra. Witnesses and those fleeing from those areas told Radio Dabanga that government forces captured the areas of Jawa, Deribat, and Rabkona in in East Jebel Marra locality in South Darfur, while taking over the areas of Kidinir, Fogoli and Libei south of Jebel Marra. Witnesses said the fighting resulted in the death and wounding of dozens of civilians and fleeing of hundreds of people to the nearby mountains and valleys. They pointed out that these they are facing very difficult humanitarian and health conditions and called on human rights and humanitarian organisations to visit them and save their lives by protecting them and providing them with food and medicine.
• Darfur: Deadly fighting continues in east and south Jebel Marra | Radio Dabanga, March 23, 2018 | JEBEL MARRA
Fierce fighting is reportedly ongoing across wide areas to the east and south of Darfur’s Jebel Marra, following movement of government forces and militias on rebel-held positions this week.
The fighting has left an unknown number of civilians and combatants dead and wounded, and displaced thousands. On Thursday afternoon, fleeing civilians told Radio Dabanga that Sara Ali Haroun and three of her children Musab, Hassan, and Hussein were killed during the fighting at Sina area southeast of Jebel Marra, which are the last strongholds of the forces of the mainstream Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW). One of the survivors of the fighting told Radio Dabanga, that yesterday the clashes were renewed north of Sina area, which was captured by the government forces from the movement on Wednesday.
He said thousands of families have been displaced from Feina area after government forces and their militias burned all the food stocks in the villages and left the civilians in a very poor humanitarian situation.
[The deliberate destruction of food stocks is a clear reflection of genocidal intent: the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide stipulates as an act of genocide in “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part” (Article 2 [C])–ER]
• RSF militiamen plunder market in Darfur’s Jebel Marra | Radio Dabanga, March 26, 2018 | JEBEL MARRA
Two people were wounded in an attack reportedly by paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on villagers in southern Jebel Marra on Saturday.
Speaking to Radio Dabanga, listeners said that RSF troops riding in 25 Land Cruisers, backed by others on more than 70 camels and horses, shot a group of people on their way to the weekly market of Kara [the South Darfur area of “East Jebel Marra”—see Map 1 in Appendix A]. on Saturday afternoon. “When the janjaweed neared the market, they began shooting around them. Adam Waddoura and Amran Ahmed were seriously wounded by the bullets,” a villager reported. “They then proceeded to the market, where they beat the people with their whips and sticks before they plundered the shops and robbed all the customers of their goods, money, mobile phones, and donkeys. They then left towards the area of Umelgura.”
The sources all said that the militiamen came from the area of Sina, where fighting erupted between government forces and combatants of the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW) last week. Ezzeldin Sambala, the spokesman for the SLM-AW strongly condemned the attack. “This incident again confirms the extent of the involvement of the regime and its militias in brutal crimes against our defenceless people,” he told this station. He claimed that the “many militiamen in the region are still fully armed,” and called the disarmament campaign in Darfur “one big lie.”
• Videos: Devastation in Darfur’s Jebel Marra | Radio Dabanga, March 30, 2018 | FEINA (South Darfur)
Video showing the destruction and devastation at Feina village in South Darfur’s East Jebel Marra by government forces and militias showed completely burnt houses and the village completely abandoned after its inhabitants fled to the mountain caves for security and protection.
A resident of the village standing at the ruins of his house, said the militias burned everything and left nothing, not even livestock. He said that the villagers are still in the mountains caves in a very bad humanitarian situation. Brothers Ismail and Ayoub Hussein Yahya were seriously wounded when a bomb hit their house at Sawani area in East Jebel Marra on Wednesday night.
Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that the Rapid Support Forces stationed at Libei launched several missiles on Wednesday night where shells hit the house of Hussein Yahya, wounding his sons, 12-year-old Ismail and 13-year-old Ayoub. Witnesses said the shells also killed five sheep, four donkeys and caused panic among the residents who fled to mountains, valleys and nearby forests. On Wednesday evening secondary school student Hasan Hajar was killed in an attack by armed men in the Khor Shingo area on a Hilux moving from Singo area of El Radoom locality to Agbash in South Darfur.
The Sudan Liberation Movement of the leadership of Minni Minawi (SLM-MM) called the declaration made by President Omar Al Bashir on Tuesday extending the cease-fire for another three months as a false and misleading both home and international public opinion. Yesterday the movement said in a statement that the militias are still killing civilians today in large areas of Jebel Marra, looting their property and forcing them to flee their villages. The statement added that the same terrorist practices, bloodshed, looting and confiscation of property are taking place in Central and North Darfur.
[This assessment is notable because SLA/MM is a party to the cessation of hostilities agreement with Khartoum; SLA/AW is not. This portends a potential widening of the hostilities—ER]
The movement’s spokesman Mohamed Hasan said in the statement that Khartoum regime took advantage of “UNAMID’s weakness and the absence of its monitoring mechanisms, as well as handing over its headquarters to the regime, which in turn handed it over to the Rapid Support Forces to become their bases.”
• Renewed attacks on villages in Darfur’s East Jebel Marra leave 11 dead | Radio Dabanga, April 2, 2018 | SAWANI
At least 11 people were killed and 21 others were injured in attacks by paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on villages in South Darfur’s East Jebel Marra on Saturday.
Multiple sources told Radio Dabanga that members of the RSF, Sudan’s main militia, riding in 18 vehicles and others on more than 50 motorcycles, backed by gunmen on more than 100 camels and horses, attacked villages in the area of Sawani on Saturday morning. Villages in the area of Terongafogi and Owru, 10 kilometres northeast of Libei, were attacked as well, causing the people to flee to nearby valleys and mountaintops. [Again see Map 1 in Appendix A]
After plundering the villages, the attackers set fire to the houses. They took with them hundreds of livestock as well, the sources reported. The sources mentioned three children among the 11 people that were killed during the attack on Sawani: Adam Teirab (5), Ezzeldin Ali (7) and Hawa Yousef (8). Sara Omar (4), Ibrahim Hamid (7), Abdelbasit Ali (8), Shamseldin Adam (9), Adam Ahmed Mohamed (13), Jamal Mahmoud (25), and Abdelazim Abakar (27) went missing according to a villager who fled from Sawani.
On Friday, government forces launched an attack on Sawani and Rokona in East Jebel Marra. Both areas are strongholds of the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW). The clashes between the two sides continued on Saturday. Mohamed Abdallah El Nayer, the spokesman for the SLM-AW, said in a statement on Sunday that the rebels managed to defeat the government forces. They forced them to flee the battlefields leaving their dead, destroyed vehicles, and seized a large quantity of weapons and ammunition. Four rebel fighters, including a commander, were killed.
[The grim irony, evidently not fully appreciated by Abdel Wahid el-Nur, is that the greater the military success his SLA forces enjoy, the greater the retribution directed against the innocent civilians Abdel Wahid claims to be representing and protecting—ER]
El Nayer said that tens of villages burned to ashes. Thousands of people are hiding in caves and valleys in the area “in a catastrophic humanitarian situation. They lack food, medicines, and shelter.” According to the statement, the government forces are continuing the government’s “scorched earth policy, for the purpose of demographic change through forced displacement.”
Darfuris once again displaced and on the move, hoping for safety, shelter, food and water
On March 9, army and militia forces attacked the area of Jawa, south of Deribat in East Jebel Marra, in an attempt to clear the region of the last rebel strongholds. Five days later, fighting erupted in the areas of Feina and Dawa. Thousands of people were displaced. Sources said that the government forces succeeded to completely take over the area of Feina.
According to reports on Thursday, the militia troops began to withdraw to El Malam and Umelgura, which are the headquarters and hometown of RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan (aka Hemeti). According to activists in southeast Jebel Marra, the thousands of villagers stranded in mountain caves are in dire need of humanitarian aid. They called on UNAMID in South and North Darfur “to assume their responsibility and move immediately to the areas of Libei, Sawani, and Terongafogi where the fighting is ongoing.”
[Calling on UNAMID for protection or indeed any assistance is the most futile of gestures, however desperate the situation generating such pleas—ER]
The Darfur Bar Association (DBA) has strongly condemned the renewed fighting in East Jebel Marra and the attacks on “innocent civilians” in the region. In a statement on Sunday, the DBA denounced the clashes “that reached its peak on March 30 and 31, in the areas of Sawani, Rokona, and Feina”, and “forced hundreds of elderly, women and children to resort to valleys, trenches, slopes, and caves of the mountains.”
Darfuri women understandably bewildered by the indifference of the “international community”
The Darfur lawyers appealed to the international community “to force the parties to respect the rights of innocent civilians, guaranteed by national laws, charters, and international conventions.” They called on relief organisations to provide urgent assistance to the victims of the conflict.
• Second deadly attack in Darfur’s Jebel Marra in days | Radio Dabanga, April 3, 2018 | DUBO EL OMDA
A man was killed by gunmen near Dubo El Omda in eastern Jebel Marra on Monday morning [See Map 2 in Appendix A]. A displaced man in Central Darfur has been abducted. Armed men shot and killed Abdelshafee Eisa Mohamed near Robkona, 15 km south of Dubo El Omda in Tawila locality on Monday morning. The attack occurred two days after two villagers were killed by armed herders west of Dubo El Omda. Tawila locality is popularly known as eastern Jebel Marra. A family member of Eisa Mohamed told Radio Dabanga that seven gunmen on camels intercepted him as he was on his way to a water well to fetch water for his cattle. He was killed on the spot. The attackers seized twelve cows and a horse and fled.
[Inevitably, the RSF creates many opportunities for violent banditry by armed groups of nomadic Arab herders, who have often seized the farmlands of those previously displaced; see | “Changing the Demography”: Violent Expropriation and Destruction of Farmlands in Darfur, November 2014 – November 2015,” Eric Reeves, author; Maya Baca, research and editing. December 1, 2015 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1P4 ]
• Darfur: 50,000 civilians taking refuge in Jebel Marra caves | Radio Dabanga, April 5, 2018 | LIBEI (“East Jebel Marra” in South darfur]
An estimated 50,000 people displaced by recent fighting between government troops and rebels in Darfur’s Jebel Marra, are reportedly taking refuge in mountain caves in the Libei area [see Map One].
Voluntary work activists estimated the number of those fleeing their villages in the eastern areas of Jebel Marra after the government attacks at about 50,000. Activists told Radio Dabanga that these civilians have been displaced from the areas of Sawani, Terongafogi, Owru, and Rokona after the government attack and the battles with the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW).
Activists said the civilians in the caves are sleeping on stones with no water or food. The association of displaced people and refugees said that the government attacks have led to the burning of 11 villages and displacement of their residents, confirming that the humanitarian organisations and UNAMID have not arrived to provide help. The spokesman of the association Hussein Abusharati called on them via Radio Dabanga to urgently rescue the civilians and provide them with food and medicine.
[Humanitarian access is dependent upon permission from Khartoum and protection by UNAMID—neither looks likely any time soon—ER]
• Militiamen arrest, beat man and boy in Central Darfur | Radio Dabanga, April 10, 2018 | NIERTETI / EAST JEBEL MARRA
Militiamen beat a boy and a man after arresting them in a market in Central Darfur on Saturday. In Jebel Marra, gunmen burned sacks of charcoal during a robbery. Mohamed Adam Omar, aged 57, and 13-year-old Hussein Mohamed Adam were beaten by members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) after they arrested them at Gurni market in Nierteti locality, Central Darfur [see Map 2]. Witnesses at Gurni market told Radio Dabanga that seven militia members arrived in the market in a Land Cruiser with a Dushka machine gun mounted on top. Mohamed, who works as a butcher in the market, was arrested together with his assistant.
“They were taken to an unknown destination,” a witness said. “The same day both of them were transferred to Nierteti hospital in a poor health condition.” Mohamed Adam Omar was in a coma at the time of reporting yesterday.
• Mother dead, child loses legs in Jebel Marra RPG blast | Radio Dabanga, April 11, 2018 | DERIBAT (“East Jebel Marra” area of South Darfur)
A woman was killed and a child lost both of his legs in the blast from a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) – part of a barrage fired from the headquarters of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) based in Deribat in Darfur’s East Jebel Marra on Monday night. One of the victims’ family members told Radio Dabanga that the dead woman, Hawa Yahya Suleiman, fled with others to the mountains after the government forces attacked Sawani village two weeks ago.
He said that she and her 12-year-old son Ayoub Husein were sleeping rough in the mountains when they were hit by a shell coming from government forces at 9:00 pm on Monday night. Hawa died instantly and Ayoub lost both legs. He said government forces might have seen the light from a battery flashlight at night, to which they responded by strafing the area and firing a barrage of bombs in that direction that continued for about half an hour.
He condemned the shelling as an atrocity, as there are no legitimate military targets, only civilians taking refuge in the mountain caves. An estimated 50,000 people displaced by recent fighting between government troops and rebels in Darfur’s Jebel Marra, are reportedly taking refuge in mountain caves in the Libei area [see Map One]. Last week, voluntary work activists estimated the number of those fleeing their villages in the eastern areas of Jebel Marra after the government attacks at about 50,000. Activists told Radio Dabanga that these civilians have been displaced from the areas of Sawani, Terongafogi, Owru, and Rokona after the government attack and the battles with the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW).
Activists said the civilians in the caves are sleeping on stones with no water or food.
• 80-year-old Sheikh “barbarically tortured to death” in Jebel Marra | Radio Dabanga, April 11, 2018 | LIBEI (“east Jebel Marra” area of South Darfur)
An 80-year-old sheikh has died in the custody of the Sudanese government forces in Darfur’s East Jebel Marra. He allegedly succumbed after severe torture. Local notables have branded his killing as “barbaric.”
Sheikh Mousa Osman, nicknamed “Mousa Simbi,” was allegedly killed by severe torture at the headquarters of the government forces stationed at Libei area in East Jebel Marra [see Map One]. Sheikh Mousa, who is about 80 years old, a normal resident of Libei, was arrested without charge and beaten to death. His body was transferred to the army command in Manawashi. Notables and activists in East Jebel Marra condemned the incident and described it as barbaric and immoral by the government army towards the citizens.
The area of Libei is accommodating more than 50,000 people who have fled from the neighbouring areas because of the military confrontations between the government forces and militias and Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid El Nur. Activists said the fleeing civilians are still living without services in the open and caves after their villages had been burned.
• Gunmen assault three children in Central Darfur | Radio Dabanga, April 16, 2018 | ZALINGEI, Central Darfur
Gunmen wounded three children near the Hamidiya camp for the displaced in Zalingei locality in Central Darfur on Sunday [see Map Two]. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, El Shafee Abdallah, coordinator of the Central Darfur camps, reported that three gunmen attacked young firewood collectors on Sunday morning. “After Rufeida Suleiman (10) Mousa Adam (12), and Amin Abdelkarim (15) had left the camp to collect firewood in the area of Karadito, three janjaweed intercepted them and beat them up.”
• South Darfur father and son shot dead, 180 camels stolen | Radio Dabanga, April 19, 2018 | KATUR
Salim Mohamed Ahmed Derisa and his son Ramadan were shot dead by unknown gunmen in at Katur area in Tawila locality in South Darfur, northeast of Jebel Marra. The murderers made off with their herd of 180 camels from them.
[There is also a “Katur” in the East Jebel Marra area of South Darfur that has been the scene of so much recent violence; there is a strong possibility of geographic confusion here since the headline refers to “South Darfur” and “Tawila locality is in North Darfur; see Map One—ER]
In a separate incident, a civilian and a soldier in the army were abducted by gunmen in another operation east of Jebel Marra. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that the kidnapping was carried out by gunmen driving a Land Cruiser and others on camels during an attack on workers at a charcoal factory south of Katur area. Witnesses said the gunmen then kidnapped Mohamed Yagoub, 28, and Hamdi Ibrahim Saleh, a member of the army from the military garrison of Katur and took them to an unknown destination. The area also witnessed the theft of 110 head of cattle belonging to Abdallah Zakariya from Kagor in north Jebel Marra [see Map Three].
• Gunmen abduct two children in Darfur’s Jebel Marra | Radio Dabanga, April 20, 2018 | DUBO EL OMDA
Gunmen abducted two children near Dubo El Omda in East Jebel Marra, which has witnessed several attacks by militiamen this month. Three people were killed in an armed clash in Central Darfur on Thursday morning. Gunmen abducted Hamdi Ibrahim Yahya (13 years) and his sister Aisha (7) from a farm at Mashrou Abu Zeid, east of Dubo El Omda in Tawila locality on Thursday.
• New government attacks on rebel sites in Darfur’s Jebel Marra | Radio Dabanga, April 22, 2018 | EAST JEBEL MARRA
The mainstream Sudan Liberation Movement headed by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW) claims its fighters withstood militia attacks on rebel bases in East Jebel Marra on Friday.
The movement’s spokesman, Waleed Abakar, told Radio Dabanga that two convoys of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Sudan’s main militia, backed by gunmen on camels and horses launched new attacks on the movement’s sites in South Darfur’s East Jebel Marra [see Map One]. “On Friday morning, one militia convoy moved from the Gakoro military garrison and the other one left the Rufta garrison to attack the SLM-AW sites in the areas of Gulik, Abulkheirat, and Sedda,” he said. He said their forces repulsed the militiamen in the area of Luo, west of the Rufta garrison, and Terela, northwest of Gakoro. The fighting was ongoing until sunset on Friday.
During the dry seasons (roughly between January-and May) in the past years, government forces have made various attempts to eliminate the SLM-AW bases in the Jebel Marra region. In March this year, rebel sites in East Jebel Marra were attacked. The fighting caused an estimated 50,000 people to flee their villages in the area. Last year, the attacks focused on northwest Jebel Marra.
According to an RSF spokesman in February 2017, Darfur became “free of armed movements, suspects, and outlaws, except for a small [SLM-AW] group stationed at the top of Jebel Marra.” In 2016, more than 80,000 people were displaced by a major military offensive against the holdout rebels in the mountainous region of the Jebel Marra.
• Militiamen plunder, burn 13 villages in Darfur’s Jebel Marra | Radio Dabanga, April 23, 2018 | JEBEL MARRA
At least 30,000 people fled their homes during attacks by large groups of militiamen on their villages in northern Jebel Marra on Thursday and Friday.
The villagers fled towards Rokoro, according to statements of the Sudan Liberation Movement under the leadership of Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW) on Friday and Saturday. After plundering the villages, the attackers set the houses on fire. The newly displaced are in dire need of aid, the SLM-AW stated. On Sunday, the rebel movement reported fierce fighting between its combatants and government forces in the area of Jaldo in northern Jebel Marra [see Map Three].
• Hundreds of families flee Jebel Marra to South Darfur camp | Radio Dabanga, May 1, 2018 | NYALA / KHARTOUM
More than 111 families who have fled from villages in the Jebel Marra region in the past two weeks have found refuge in a camp for displaced people in Nyala. The newly displaced report being robbed by militiamen. One of the sheikhs in Otash camp in South Darfur [near Nyala] told Radio Dabanga that the majority of the families have settled in camp centre 13.
“Among them are children, women and elderly people. “The humanitarian aid agencies in the state have registered a number of families. But more than 26 families have not been registered so far.” The camp leader pointed out that the people currently live in the open without food, cover or water.
Rebel sites, villages attacked
The fighting last month has displaced thousands of people – reportedly 30,000 according to the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid El Nur (SLM-AW). Their clashes with pro-government militias took place in northwestern Jebel Marra and in the Central Darfur part where the Jebel Marra mountains stretch. The militias reportedly launched an attack from the Rufuta military garrison in Central Darfur. After the clashes the villages of Boli (Boulay) and Arua (Aro) in Central Darfur [see Map 3 in Appendix A] were attacked, among others.
According to other witness reports the clashes coincided with attacks on 13 villages in northern Jebel Marra by a large group of militiamen. Also in March this year, rebel sites in East Jebel Marra were attacked. The fighting caused an estimated 50,000 people to flee their villages in the area.
Displaced people robbed
A number of people who have fled the fighting in Jebel Marra reported to Radio Dabanga that militiamen robbed them of their money and property. The attackers set fire to the villages, stole livestock, and raided markets. The camp sheikh added: “Because of their difficult situation, the newly displaced people have turned to begging inside the camp. They do not have enough money for transportation to Nyala city, and cannot go there to find work or beg.”
Also in Kass [Kass is a good deal further south and represents the “spillover” effects of Jebel Marra violence—see Map 1 in Appendix A] locality displaced people report being beaten and robbed by militiamen near to the camps for displaced people on Sunday. A resident told Radio Dabanga that militiamen, driving more than 100 vehicles on their way to the battlefield in Jebel Marra, have stationed in the military garrison in Kass for four days.
He said that the pro-government militiamen carried out thefts and raids in homes adjacent to the garrison, such as Aradeiba and Kass Kabir North. “At 9pm on Sunday, a group of these militiamen attacked Abdel Jabar and Aradeiba camps for displaced people, as well as the southern market.
[Assaults on camps for the displaced are becoming increasingly frequent, and increasingly violent as Khartoum seeks to prepare the way for a dismantling of all camps and thereby removing the rationale for an international humanitarian presence—ER]
“They beat and robbed displaced people.” The resident reported that the attackers stole fifteen mobile phones, fruit, and destroyed market stalls holding vegetables and meat. “This happened in spite of the presence of guards in the market.”
USA call to stop fighting
In a statement by the United States Department of State last week, spokesman Heather Nauert said that Washington was seriously concerned about the recent fighting in Jebel Marra. The USA urges all sides –government forces, SLM-AW, and armed tribal groups – “to immediately halt their provocative actions and violent responses,” she said.
[“All sides”: the inability to assign appropriate responsibility for the violence—particularly the violence against civilians—is characteristic of what has long been a default U.S. policy of “moral equivalence” when speaking about the Khartoum regime and its rebel opponents. Such “equivalence” is always a victory for Khartoum—ER]
In her statement Nauert requested the Sudanese government to allow “immediate and unhindered access by the United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), UN Country Team elements, and national and international humanitarian agencies to the areas where violence is taking place, as well as to displaced populations.”
[Of course the question is: what is the U.S. prepared to do if—as will almost certainly be the case—Khartoum simply ignores the “request”?—ER]