Hundreds protest deadly attack on North Darfur displaced

Hundreds of people participated in a mass demonstration in El Fasher on Tuesday to condemn the attack on Sortony camp for the displaced in Kabkabiya locality, North Darfur, in which at least 17 people were killed, including children.

The overcrowded Sortony site in North Darfur where especially displaced from Jebel Marra sought refuge during government attacks in 2016 (UNAMID)

Hundreds of people participated in a mass demonstration in El Fasher on Tuesday to condemn the attack on Sortony camp for the displaced in Kabkabiya locality, North Darfur, in which at least 17 people were killed, including children.

The participants held a vigil, chanted slogans in solidarity with the displaced in Sortony camp, and held banners denouncing last weekend’s violent attack on the camp. Among the chanted slogans were ‘blood, peace, blood’ and ‘Sortony is bleeding’.

The protesters called on the state government to urgently and efficiently sort out the protection of the displaced in Sortony and other camps.

The attack

About 17 internally displaced people (IDPs) were killed and at least 9 were wounded in the attack on the camp on Saturday and Sunday. The community buried the bodies of the dead, including five children, seven women, and five men, while the wounded were transferred to Kabkabiya Hospital. Among the injured were another two children and seven women, many of whom are currently in critical condition.

During the attack, roughly 300 shops were damaged and looted and several housed were burned.

Most displaced fled to the cased north of Jebel Marra but a part of the displaces fled to East Rokero, where they are forced to live in the open without shelter whilst autumn is approaching.

People also sought shelter in the Jebel Marra caved during government attacks and air raids in 2016 (Radio Dabanga)


In the North Darfur capital of El Fasher, the recently appointed Wali (governor) of North Darfur, Nimir Mohamed Abdelrahman, expressed his deep regret for the events that took place in Sortony camp.

The Wali affirmed his commitment to providing security in the IDP camps during his meeting with a delegation from Sortony camp on Tuesday morning.

Abdelrahman announced his intention to launch an urgent appeal to all humanitarian organisations working in the state to go to the camp to provide services to those affected.

The camp delegation also explained the necessity of immediate provision of security and humanitarian aid to the camp.

The General Coordination of the Displaced and Refugee Camps strongly condemned the attack on the displaced people in Sortony camp. It accused the transitional government of complicity and demanded human rights and humanitarian organisations to “play their role in monitoring the dangerously deteriorating security situation in Darfur”.

The coordination accused unnamed parties of seeking to dismantle the camps.

Thousands of displaced sought refuge near the UNAMID team site in Sortony during the fighting in Jebel Marra and many were never able to return (UNAMID) 


Darfur history

Darfur has a long history of strife between Arab herding tribes 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. 

During the war that followed, at least 300,000 people were killed and over 2.5 million were displaced according to the UN. Many of those still live in camps for the displaced and often face violent attacks reminiscent of the genocide carried out by the Al Bashir regime, especially the Janjaweed, during the war.

In 2013, Sudan’s largest paramilitary force, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), was set up by the Al Bashir regime and it was largely made up of Janjaweed militiamen. Officially, the RSF was integrated into the Sudan Armed Forces in August last year, however, the militia remains a force unto itself, commanded by Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo, who also is Deputy President of Sudan’s Sovereign Council.

According to investigations, the RSF has carried out nearly 100 attacks against towns, farms, and civilians in North Darfur and Jebel Marra between 2016 and 2019.

Attacks on Camps

Earlier this year In January, at least 163 people died in attacks on West Darfur’s El Geneina and adjacent Kerending camps as Arab herdsmen again targeted Masalit people.

The end of 2019 also saw violence at the Kerending camps in which more than 80 people were killed and at least 47,000 were displaced. The violence was linked to the previous regime as well and many militant herders who committed the violence drove in RSF vehicles.

Hundreds of thousands of people fled their villages in Nortd Darfur during the war and the ongoing violence after the war.
Now they live in camps for the displaced, such as Zamzam camp, Sortony camp, or Abu Shouk
(Albert González Farran/UNAMID)