ANNEX: Project Update, February 21, 2022: Responding to Sexual Violence in Darfur
Gaffar Mohammud Saeneen and Eric Reeves, Co-Chairs
Julie Darcq, Online Campaign Coordinator; Nancy Reeves, editor and financial facilitator
Overview (coordinating counselor of Team Zamzam)
The security situation in North Darfur is getting worse day by day, reflecting the failure of the new Wali (governor) Nimer Mohamed Abdelrahman, who has confined himself in his residence. The spread of organized crime has become terrifying at the state level. The continuation of violation assaults against civilians has forced many citizens to take precautionary measures to protect their neighbourhoods. One of the citizens from Zamzam, whose name is withheld, said:
“We have lost hope and faith in the governor, we have lost hope and trust in the government and the governor-general, and we have lost confidence in the central government. We cannot stand here with our hands folded under the intimidation of the Janjaweed militias, waiting for death to come to us. That is why we decided to defend ourselves in various ways.”
While this is the case for the residents of the IDP camps and the villages on suburbs of the city of El Fasher, the situation inside El Fasher and its main neighbourhoods remains relatively calm during daytime.
For the residents of the state (North Darfur) the continuation of the current situation has become utterly unbearable, but no one is listening to our concerns. Who will be held responsible for the deteriorating security situation and the ongoing chaos? Who is benefiting from this situation? Why there are so many armed groups roaming the city with their weapons? When these sprees of killing, robbing citizens on the streets and other violations shall stopped?
These are the daily questions asked by the inhabitants of North Darfur but the answer remains have not been forthcoming and show no signs of being offered. This ongoing deterioration of security in North Darfur state has many dire effects and coincides with what is already ongoing economic decline and the rising cost of living. The feelings of despair, fear, frustration, boredom, and anger are the common denominator among the citizens of the state at various levels, and if the situation continues in this way many of them thinking of leaving Darfur for good.
When we posed a question about the current situation to an old resident of El Fasher, a well-known figure among the city’s major merchants, he said, “Darfur is finished, and what is left of it is under the grip of authoritarian Janjaweed who only know killing, theft, threatening people with weapons, abusing them, and raping young girls”; and he continued saying, “most of them are foreigners and they have no respect the people of the country.”
Worsening health conditions in the camps
The health condition in the camps has begun to deteriorate significantly with the outbreak of hepatitis E in October 2021 (or earlier). The death toll caused by hepatitis E since October 2021 is extremely worrying. The overall death toll from various diseases such as various illness with fever and diarrhea is frightening. COVID-19 is still almost entirely unknown from official reporting, but all reports indicate that there are many people complaining of sickness with Covid-like symptoms.
The main problem here is not only the absence of health centres with professionally trained cadres working in the camps, but the shortage of local, national, and international health organizations to provide assistance, and the unwillingness of state officials to pay even minimum attention to the plight of the IDP’S. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in April 2020, only few local volunteer groups—besides Team Zamzam—have been on the ground to provide basic health provisions such masks, hygienic soaps, and alcohol gel.