Attacks ‘imminent’ in North Darfur as over a 1,000 gunmen gather

Cattle in Demeika village, North Darfur (File photo: Albert González Farran / UNAMID)

KABKABIYA / EL FASHER – January 22, 2023

A displaced community leader in Tawila camp for the displaced in North Darfur has warned of imminent attacks due to the gathering of more than 1,000 gunmen on motorcycles in ​​Kabkabiya.

Omda Adam Bosh, leader of the Tawila camp, told Radio Dabanga that the gunmen were sighted in the area of Kowra in ​​Kabkabiya locality. They were reportedly heading to Sortony, in the south-eastern part of Kabkabiya, where there is another large camp for displaced people.

The area recently also witnessed attacks, rapes, and robberies that often targeted displaced people.

Another 150 men on motorcycles are wreaking havoc on the El Fasher-El Geneina road, robbing vehicles, Bosh said and accused “members of this militia” of drug trafficking as well, including in Tawila camp.

Despite the clear threat, no additional security forces have been deployed in the area, the Omda said. The forces present in Tawila are members of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and the police.

The native administration leader reported that many herders are herding their livestock onto farms in the area, destroying the crops. “This may cause the failure of the agricultural season.”

The farmers, often displaced people, have suggested that the livestock be released to graze freely in February only so that farmers can harvest their crops.

Bosh called on the government of North Darfur “to provide security so that the displaced villagers in Tawila are able to go to their farms without fear of being attacked and to bring the gunmen to justice”.

Two days ago, Radio Dabanga reported that the humanitarian situation in Zamzam camp near El Fasher, one of the largest camps for the displaced in Darfur, has become extremely dire, according to community leaders.

A poor harvest in 2022 has reportedly forced children to beg for food in the streets, while a scarcity of medicines is allowing malaria and other diseases to run rampant.

Darfur history

Darfur has a long history of strife between nomadic Arab herders and non-Arab African herders or sedentary farmers. Arab tribesmen were recruited by the previous regime of dictator Omar Al Bashir to join the Janjaweed militias.

Al Bashir employed these Arab militias to repress a revolt over ethnic marginalisation in the region, mainly targeting non-Arab African farmers. The Janjaweed are held responsible for the genocide against Darfuri farmers and other non-Arab/African groups.

The RSF, one of the forces currently present in Tawila, was established by the Al Bashir regime in 2013 and grew out of the Janjaweed militias. They are widely believed to be responsible for atrocities in the Kordofan and Darfur regions in the past years and are also widely condemned for their role in the October 25 military coup and subsequent violence against pro-democracy protesters.