Kidnapping and protection rackets rife in North Darfur

Tawila residents making the journey to El Fasher (some on foot) to escape attacks. According to online sources, many face robberies and harassment by the RSF and allied militias on their way (social media)


Militiamen in Kutum, North Darfur, are reportedly imposing ‘financial fees’ on residents in return for protection, and kidnapping people for ransom. Displaced people in El Fasher and Tawila face dire conditions as disease outbreaks and resource scarcity plague shelters.

Displaced people who fled Kutum, North Darfur, told Radio Dabanga that militiamen are extorting money from residents in exchange for protection. The town fell under the control of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in early June after attacks on the town and nearby camps left 40 people dead. More than 90 per cent of Kutum’s population has been forced to endure “a gruelling journey on foot to El Fasher and nearby towns.

Listeners tell Radio Dabanga that the militiamen are kidnapping family members of merchants, and demanding large sums of money as ransom. They also set up checkpoints along the Kutum El-Fasher road, charging high fees to vehicles carrying goods and passengers. “Small carts face fees of SDG 15,000, while larger vehicles transporting fruits and vegetables are charged SDG 25,000-35,000.”

Displaced people from Kutum shared disturbing accounts of continued rape and arbitrary arrests targeting various civil society groups. Militiamen reportedly invade homes under the pretense of searching for weapons. The villages surrounding Kutum “continue to experience plundering”. Communication networks have been disrupted since May, further exacerbating the situation.

Kutum faces severe shortages of consumer goods, due to the inability to import supplies from El Fasher. According to local accounts, farmers in certain areas were forcefully prevented from farming and their machinery was confiscated.

Unsanitary conditions

In Tawila, North Darfur, and in the capital El Fasher, shelters housing displaced people are grappling with outbreaks of watery diarrhoea and malaria, aggravated by inadequate access to food and clean water.

These centres, accommodating displaced people from Kutum, Tawila, and the eastern neighbourhoods of El Fasher, have “become breeding grounds for flies and disease carriers, as well as water pollution”.

Displaced people speaking to Radio Dabanga highlighted the Ministry of Health’s negligence in cleaning water ponds and swamps, which worsened the spread of diseases. “Particularly in El Fasher, this negligence is posing a significant health threat to residents”. Ismail Hamid, the head of the shelters in Tawila and El Fasher, urgently appealed to the North Darfur state government and charities for immediate assistance.

“The shelters currently provide refuge for 365 families, totalling 1,629 people, housed within two schools”. Urgently needed supplies include medicine, food, sanitation facilities, water containers, mattresses, blankets, and sleepers, especially with the approaching autumn season.