Clashes between farmers and herders in South Darfur leave 10 dead

A group of Darfuri Arab pastoralists prepare to take part in a camel race (File photo: Amin Ismael / UNAMID)

Last week, an altercation between farmers from Karamjei village in Manawashi, South Darfur, and cattle herders turned deadly, leaving 10 farmers dead and seven injured. The conflict arose when the herders released their cattle on farmland.

A Manawashi resident, speaking to Radio Dabanga, explained that the dispute escalated when the affected farmers collectively decided to drive the animals off their lands. In response, the armed herders attacked them, resulting in a fatal gunfight that claimed the lives of 10 farmers and injured seven others.

The incident prompted 2,900 people to flee in fear of additional attacks, seeking refuge in neighbouring villages within the Manawashi administrative unit. “Their health conditions are deteriorating and require urgent assistance,” the source said.

He called upon native administration* leaders to mediate and find a resolution to the recurring clashes between herders and farmers in the area.

Releasing livestock onto farms during the agricultural winter season remains a significant concern for Darfur’s farmers and villagers. This practice leads to frictions between herding and farming communities and damages large crop areas each year. This not only often results in dozens of deaths and injuries, but has the potential to turn into large-scale, even more deadly tribal conflicts.

In February, the Radio Dabanga team explored the issue of early grazing in North Darfur and efforts to enhance stability in the region. The acting North Darfur governor advised adjustments to the Farmers and Herders Law and called for the continuation of joint workshops between farmers and herders to consolidate the standards of coexistence between them.

* The Native Administration was instituted by British colonial authorities seeking a pragmatic system of governance that allowed for effective control with limited investment and oversight by the state. The state-appointed tribal leaders were also responsible for executing policies, collecting taxes, and mobilising labour on behalf of the central government. According to the Darfur Bar Association (DBA), the Native Administration during the 30-year rule of dictator Omar Al Bashir did not represent the real community leaders.