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Darfur's El Geneina witnesses 'cautious calm' amid mass displacement

January 22 - 2021 EL GENEINA
People flee the outskirts of El Geneina on January 17 (Social media)
People flee the outskirts of El Geneina on January 17 (Social media)

The sound of gunfire has ceased in El Geneina, prompting a cautious calm upon the arrival of large military reinforcements yesterday, after 162 people were killed and at least 200 injured in attacks in on the West Darfur capital last weekend.

More than 200 people were killed and 240 injured as a result of attacks on El Geneina and El Tawil village this week in South Darfur, according to Sudan’s Ministry of Health and Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC). In the attack on El Tawil village by Rizeigat gunmen, 56 people were killed and 42 were injured.

Reportedly, about 100,000 people were displaced when large groups of gunmen attacked a number of districts of El Geneina and the two Kerending camps for displaced people on Saturday and Sunday. 60,000 of them sought refuge in schools and government buildings in central El Geneina, while 40,000 others fled to neighbouring villages.

They are living in dire conditions. One displaced person staying at the El Zahraa School in El Geneina told Radio Dabanga said that children, women, and the elderly are especially affected, “suffering from a lack of water, food, latrines, and the cold.”

The HAC reported that 32,000 people who sought refuge in El Geneina came from the Kerending camps, another 8,000 from Dar El Salam, Dar El Naseem, and Bab El Geneina which are adjacent to the camps, and about 10,000 people fled from neighbouring villages. About 90 per cent of the homes in the Kerending camps burned to ashes, the families' small possessions were destroyed.

According to Save the Children, a total of 90,000 people are newly displaced. The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported yesterday evening that the figure is 86,150.

El Geneina witnessed a cautious calm and the sounds of ammunition ceased after the arrival of large military reinforcements yesterday.

The Grand Market of El Geneina witnessed very limited movement and most shops are still closed despite the reduction in curfew hours. Traders at the market demanded the government to “reassure the people.”

Protests against insecurity

Yesterday in Khartoum, hundreds of activists demonstrated in Khartoum against rampant insecurity in Darfur. They marched to the Sovereign Council and the Council of Ministers to denounce the violence in West Darfur.

Separately, the participants in a women's march organised by the Sudan’s Women, Political and Civil Groups (MANSAM) and the Women’s Alliance delivered a memorandum to Aisha Mousa, member of the Sovereign Council, demanding to secure the people of Darfur.

The Darfur Bar Association praised the role of Lt Gen Abdelrahim Hamdan, Deputy Commander Rapid Support Forces, in supporting the government of West Darfur for containing the situation in El Geneina.

Nyala vigil

In South Darfur, members of MANSAM organised a vigil in Nyala in solidarity with the victims of El Geneina and of El Tawil. Representatives of the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance, nomad groups, and professional groups participated in the vigil.

They denounced the killing of innocent people and called for an end to war and distancing from tribalism. They demanded disarmament and intervention, and stressed urgent need for the government with all its components to extend the prestige of the state and deploy the joint forces.

In a statement this week, the Displaced People Gathering has appealed to “all national and international organisations, civil society organisations, Resistance Committees, women's organisations, youth and student associations, and businessmen in the country to provide humanitarian and health assistance in shelter centres and displacement sites.”

At the end of last year, the governor of Central Darfur warned of an increase in violence now that the UNAMID mission is withdrawing from the region. Protests against the insecurity and violence, and against the UNAMID exit, have taken place across Darfur in the past few months.

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