A group allegedly consisting of members of government forces and former rebels reportedly looted all remaining assets of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) mission from its former headquarters in the North Darfur capital El Fasher on Monday evening and on Tuesday. Some of the plunder is being sold on a ‘open market’ outside the site.
Well-informed sources yesterday confirmed the theft of four-wheel drive vehicles, lorries, equipment, and various other devices, by a large group of army soldiers, paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), policemen, former rebel combatants, and residents of the city. The base has been cleared of everything that was left after it initially was plundered on December 24-25.
The assets donated by UNAMID after its official exit from the region on December 31 last year, had been allocated to the five Darfur state governments.
As previously reported by Radio Dabanga, implementing the security arrangements for the Darfur movements with a 'joint force' was launched by Sudan’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Lt Gen Khaled El Shami, at the former headquarters of UNAMID mission in El Fasher on Monday.
Journalist Zamzam Khater reported that people living in El Fasher heard heavy shooting coming from the former UNAMID base “for a long time” on Monday evening. Another source explained that the gunfire began after forces in charge of guarding the place, began appropriating the allocated vehicles.
Khater told Radio Dabanga from El Fasher that she visited the UNAMID base on Tuesday morning and witnessed a chaos.
She described the looted UNAMID headquarters as an open market “everyone takes what he can carry”. She added, “I saw large groups burning buildings and others carrying foundation elements and televisions with forces in uniform, and citizens, some of whom pull the broken vehicles with carts.”
On the situation in El Fasher on Tuesday morning, journalist Zamzam Khater described the city’s streets during the day as full of movement and vehicles driven by civilians and regulars, and loaded with looted goods from UNAMID.
She said that there is now a market in which the looted items are openly displayed, and stressed that the security forces started the looting of UNAMID, represented by the police, the armed forces, the RSF, and the armed struggle movements from the forces of Minni Minawi, El Taher Hajar, and El Hadi Idris. Zamzam confirmed that all these forces were present inside the camp and looting.
Another journalist Fatima Fadul described what happened inside the UNAMID camp in El Fasher on Monday night and yesterday Tuesday as an organised and premeditated crime. And she said in an interview with Radio Dabanga from El Fasher on Tuesday that there are regular forces that participated in the looting, while others refrained from moving to prevent the citizens from storming the camp, explaining that the regular forces looted the camp first and then opened the way for the public to take therest, with the aim of concealing their crime.
In the interview, Fadul confirmed that the acting governor, Nimir Abdelrahman, and the state security committee did not move until the moment of the interview on Tuesday to protect the camp, and stop the looting by the armed militants, which indicates the inability of the state authorities to achieve security and impose the Rule of Law. She said that this exchange will increase the people’s sense of insecurity and security in the state.
She expressed her fears that if the matter is not quickly remedied, these forces will turn to looting the city’s markets and banks.
Sudanese Professionals Association
The Sudanese Professionals Association in North Darfur held responsible for the theft of UNAMID on Monday in the city of El Fasher the army, police, armed movements, security, and RSF.
In a statement, the SPA demanded the dismissal of the North Darfur governor and the governor of the Darfur region, and their immediate accountability and the formation of a national committee to conduct a transparent and fair investigation of those involved in these events and hold them accountable in public squares.
In its statement, the SPA also demanded the immediate abolition of the State of Emergency in North Darfur, because the thieves, according to the statement, are not civilians and because of the curfew their means of income are disrupted.
In Khartoum, UNITAMS Volker Perthes discussed with member of the Sovereignty Council El Hadi Idris the situation in El Fasher after the looting of UNAMID on Monday evening and the recent security breaches in Darfur.
Sudan News Agency said that Perthes expressed during the meeting the UN’s concern about what is happening, and stressed the need for concerted popular and governmental efforts to protect citizens to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid and improve Sudan’s image before the international community.
History of looting
As previously reported by Radio Dabanga, the ongoing insecurity in Darfur, often partly exacerbated by the vacuum created by the UNAMID drawdown, has meant that the practicalities of the handover of UNAMID sites and facilities have not always gone as planned.
On June 5, two people were killed and eight others sustained injuries when a former UNAMID site in Shangil Tobaya, Dar El Salaam locality, south of El Fasher in North Darfur was looted.
The site was handed over to the Government of Sudan on May 25. It was the last of 14 deep field sites handed over to the Sudanese government. At the time, the North Darfur government and the Sudanese government’s joint task force strongly reconfirmed their commitment to ensure civilian use of the former site.
Since the mission ended its mandate at the end of last year, various former UNAMID sites handed over to local authorities to be used as schools or training centres, have been looted. In February, a site in North Darfur’s Saraf Omra that was earmarked for use as a vocational training centre was looted and ‘levelled’ just weeks after it was handed over to the Sudanese government.