Inquiry identifies 90 involved in South Darfur attacks, concerns about real numbers

RSF troops in El Fasher, North Darfur, in 2020 (RSF)


The Commission of Inquiry into attacks by militant Rizeigat on villages in Beleil, east of Nyala in South Darfur, in December last year has identified 90 persons involved in the events. There are doubts around the accuracy and scope of the reports. The villagers themselves demand a continuation of the investigation.

Vice-president of the Sovereignty Council and Commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Gen Mohamed ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo, who is a Rizeigat tribesman, addressed villagers after receiving the committee’s report in the area of Amouri village in Beleil yesterday, one of the villages that was attacked.

During his address, Hemeti stressed the necessity of continuing the investigations into the events.

The RSF commander further touched on the issues of services, security, and early grazing on farms. He acknowledged the government’s failure to provide water, which is causing friction between pastoralists and farmers, and promised to open more water stations in the area.

Ethnic cleansing

The series of attacks by militant Rizeigat herdsmen on Daju villages displaced tens of thousands of people. The Daju sultanate described the attacks as “organised” and said that they amount to “ethnic cleansing”.

Darfur has a long history of strife between nomadic Arab herders, such as the Rizeigat, and sedentary farmers, such as the Daju. 

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 in what became known as the Darfur Genocide. Many of these farmers still live in camps for the displaced.

A ’cessation of hostilities’ was signed between the Rizeigat and Daju leaders, brokered by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), but this agreement was called superficial and fragile. The RSF grew out of the Janjaweed and mainly consist of herdsmen.

There were also widespread reports of RSF involvement in the attacks on the villages in Beleil.

Photo taken in one of the Beleil villages attacked in December last year (RD)

Investigation doubts

El Hadi Idris, head of the Sudan Liberation Movement-Transitional Council faction and member of the Sovereignty Council, expects that the number of those involved in the attacks on the villages in Beleil is much larger than the list set by the investigation committee at 90 people.

He referred to the large number of burned villages and called for “the continuation of the investigation until the last suspect is reached”. El Hadri has called earlier reports on the attacks ‘not convincing’.

The villagers themselves also demand a continuation of the investigation.

During his conversation with people in the area of Amouri, Idris stressed the need to end impunity of the military and security forces, arrest all perpetrators involved in the attacks, and bring them to justice in order to avoid any recurrence of the attacks.

He called on native administration leaders (tribal leaders appointed by the government) to cooperate in the arrest of the suspects, and on the security and military forces to cooperate and hand over their members involved in the attacks. 

More than 10 people were killed and about 20 villages, inhabited by formerly displaced members of the Daju tribe, who returned to the areas of origin a few years ago. About 16,000 villagers were displaced. Daju community leaders said that the attacks were implemented in a systematic way, and accused the Rapid Support Forces, many of them recruited from the Rizeigat, of participating in the attacks.

Problems with humanitarian aid distribution

El Nayer Mohamed, a youth representative in the area of Amouri, complained about the stop of food distribution to those affected by the attacks on villages in Beleil. Food support ended roughly two weeks ago,

He told Radio Dabanga that those affected are living in poor conditions because of the lack of food and explained that flour in the distribution storage is nearing its expiry date.

There are about 1,000 tents, 2,000 tarpaulins, and 2,000 blankets in storage that have not yet been distributed as well. “Until now, each displaced family received one mattress and one blanket,” despite this availability, Mohamed said.

Previously, the director of Beleil locality attributed the delay in distributing tents, tarpaulins, and blankets to the procedures of the distribution committee. The Radio Dabanga team tried to contact the aid distribution committee, but to no avail.