Hundreds of people flee Jebel Marra to South Darfur camp

More than 111 families who have fled from villages in the Jebel Marra region in the past two weeks have found refuge in a camp for displaced people in Nyala. The newly displaced report being robbed by militiamen.

Women supported by a UNDP programme in Otash camp, Nyala (UNDP)

More than 111 families who have fled from villages in the Jebel Marra region in the past two weeks have found refuge in a camp for displaced people in Nyala. The newly displaced report being robbed by militiamen.

One of the sheikhs in Otash camp in South Darfur told Radio Dabanga that the majority of the families have settled in camp centre 13. “Among them are children, women and elderly people.

“The humanitarian aid agencies in the state have registered a number of families. But more than 26 families have not been registered so far.”

The camp leader pointed out that the people currently live in the open without food, cover or water.

Rebel sites, villages attacked

Boli and Arua villages and Ruvata military garrison (OCHA Map)

The fighting last month has displaced thousands of people – reportedly 30,000 according to the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW). Their clashes with pro-government militias took place in northwestern Jebel Marra and in the Central Darfur part where the Jebel Marra mountains stretch.

The militias reportedly launched an attack from the Rufuta military garrison in Central Darfur. After the clashes the villages of Boli (Boulay) and Arua (Aro) in Central Darfur were attacked, among others.

According to other witness reports the clashes coincided with attacks on 13 villages in northern Jebel Marra by a large group of militiamen. Also in March this year, rebel sites in East Jebel Marra were attacked. The fighting caused an estimated 50,000 people to flee their villages in the area.

Displaced people robbed

A number of people who have fled the fighting in Jebel Marra reported to Radio Dabanga that militiamen robbed them of their money and property. The attackers set fire to the villages, stole livestock, and raided markets.

The camp sheikh added: “Because of their difficult situation, the newly displaced people have turned to begging inside the camp. They do not have enough money for transportation to Nyala city, and cannot go there to find work or beg.”

Also in Kass locality displaced people report being beaten and robbed by militiamen near to the camps for displaced people on Sunday. A resident told Radio Dabanga that militiamen, driving more than 100 vehicles on their way to the battlefield in Jebel Marra, have stationed in the military garrison in Kass for four days.

He said that the pro-government militiamen carried out thefts and raids in homes adjacent to the garrison, such as Aradeiba and Kass Kabir North. “At 9pm on Sunday, a group of these millitiamen attacked Abdeljabbar and Aradeiba camps for displaced people, as well as the southern market.

“They beat and robbed displaced people.” The resident reported that the attackers stole fifteen mobile phones, fruit, and destroyed market stalls holding vegetables and meat. “This happened in spite of the presence of guards in the market.”

USA call to stop fighting

In a statement by the United States Department of State last week, spokesman Heather Nauert said that Washington was seriously concerned about the recent fighting in Jebel Marra. The USA urges all sides –government forces, SLM-AW, and armed tribal groups – “to immediately halt their provocative actions and violent responses,” she said.

The Darfur Bar Association (DBA) has welcomed the call of the US State Department to halt the armed operations that led to the loss of innocent civilian victims and the displacement of thousands of families between the foothills of mountains, amid a lack of food and potable water.

The DBA issued a press statement appealing to the United Nations, its aid agencies and international organisations to urgently provide emergency relief assistance to the displaced and those affected by the fighting.

In her statement Nauert requested the Sudanese government to allow “immediate and unhindered access by the United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid), UN Country Team elements, and national and international humanitarian agencies to the areas where violence is taking place, as well as to displaced populations.”