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Death toll of West Darfur massacre now at least 129

January 19 - 2021 EL GENEINA
Fire in the north-eastern districts of El Geneina in 2019 (RD)
Fire in the north-eastern districts of El Geneina in 2019 (RD)

The massacre in El Geneina, which started on Saturday, has now left at least 129 people dead and 198 injured. The injured include children and new-borns who are receiving care in a number of medical centres in El Geneina.

The West Darfur Doctors Committee said in a statement that, despite peace slowly returning to the town, the violence has expanded into the Murnei and Goker areas. Here, new bodies were already found, and they expect more bodies and injured people to be found in the coming days.

The committee also explained that they face a shortage of medical personnel and that blood bank stocks are slowly depleting. The two Kerending camps near El Geneina locality have been plundered, and that thousands of displaced people are now again homeless, and are short of water, food, and medicine.

The Head of State Security in West Darfur, Maj Gen Osman Haj Mala, said that the violence was triggered by a dispute in which a Masalit tribesman stabbed a man from an “Arab tribe*” near the Kerending camps. The Darfur Bar Association confirms these events.

The lawyers said in a statement that “militiamen took advantage of the incident” and attacked El Geneina from all directions. They were supported by groups that came from Saraf Omra in North Darfur, Central Darfur, and the border area with Chad.

Mala also said that members of the ‘‘Arab tribe'’ started shooting inside a hospital and that groups of them entered a market following the stabbing.

He explained that a joint paramilitary force, consisting of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Central Reserve Police (Abu Teira), was mobilised to counter the attack. However, events developed quickly as both the Kerending camps and various parts of the town came under attack.

Mala noted that the attackers withdrew to a number of villages in the area. He pointed to the continuing unrest in the state and explained that the situation will require more serious efforts to establish security.

He also stressed the role of civil administrations in calming the situation and emphasised the need to address the social fabric and the need for peaceful coexistence.

A member of the Masalit tribe, Saad Abdelrahman, expressed his surprise about the complete absence of the army during the attacks on El Geneina and demanded an explanation. He said that the areas of Azirni, EL Mazroub, and Abu Neem, 40 kilometres away from El Geneina, also witnessed attacks on Monday in which homes were burned and property and agricultural crops were stolen.

He called on the authorities to speed up attempts to rescue people as villages were still burning. The tribesman also indicated that more dead bodies and wounded people were found in the Kerending camps yesterday.

Darfur violence

Darfur has witnessed a surge in violence and unrest recently, while the UNAMID peacekeeping mission is leaving Darfur.

Yesterday, at least seven people were killed and about 30 others were wounded in a tribal attack on the village of El Tawil in the Saboon area of South Darfur and at least 15 tribesmen were killed in tribal clashes between Masalit farmers and Fallata herders in South Darfur last month.

Incidents of violence reported in Darfur doubled during the second half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, according to the security incidents database maintained by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The governor of Central Darfur has warned of an increase in violence now that the UNAMID mission has began to withdraw from the region. Protests against the insecurity and violence, and against the UNAMID exit, have taken place all over Darfur.

The Security and Defence Council held an emergency meeting to discuss the escalating situation in West Darfur and Sudan’s eastern borders. Defence Minister Maj Gen Yasin Ibrahim expressed regret over the aggravating situation and wished “a quick recovery for the injured and wounded”.

* The major tribes in Darfur are the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa. The predominantly nomadic tribes, called Arabs in Sudan, live in the larger part of northern Darfur and the predominantly non-Arab or African sedentary group, mainly composed of peasant farmers, live in the western and southern regions of Darfur.


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