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Lawlessness continues in North Darfur’s Kutum

May 3 - 2021 KUTUM
Bank in Kutum town, guarded by military staff, as police forces were absent, 2015 (File photo)
Bank in Kutum town, guarded by military staff, as police forces were absent, 2015 (File photo)

In the area north of Kutum, a large group of armed herders is attacking cars and robbing the passengers. Two people were seriously injured yesterday when the attackers fired at a passenger car in the area of Khor Aweeja.

During the weekend, militant Arab herders, riding in 15 vehicles, intercepted traffic on the road north of Kutum, and robbed the drivers and passengers of their money and belongings, activist Yahya El Khumus told Radio Dabanga.

A large number of drivers and passengers were injured during the attacks. On Sunday, two men, Abubakir Mohamed and Ismail Khalil, sustained serious bullet wounds and had to be transferred to the hospital of Kutum.

El Khumus added that another group of herders beat up a number of women who were collecting firewood in the area of Serri.

Attacks by armed shepherds are increasing these days, he said, and warned for more violence at the beginning of the agricultural season. He called for a quick formation of the joint forces that are to protect the people of Darfur.

Each year with the beginning of the rainy season in May-June, farmers start preparing their lands. During the agricultural season, herders often let their camels and cattle graze on the farmlands. And each year again, farmers complain about livestock destroying their crops.

In the past, there used to be clearly marked pasture tracks and traditional tribal procedures for compensation of lost crops, but this has changed during the regime of Omar Al Bashir, that supported the ‘Arab herders’ in the region, whilst looking down on ‘African farmers’.

In March this year, the Forces for Freedom and Change, the Sovereignty Council, and the Sudan Liberation Movement discussed the deterioration of the security conditions in Kutum. The meeting emphasised the importance of joint action to implement the Juba Peace Agreement.

Officially, Peace Shield Forces have been deployed already in North Darfur. These forces have been formed from members of the RSF government militia to protect the people in Darfur following the exit of the joint UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

Yet, in various protests, Darfuri have demanded the withdrawal of the RSF, set up by ousted dictator Omar Al Bashir in 2013 on the basis of the janjaweed militias who attacked hundreds of villages in Darfur since the war started in 2003. According to Dutch investigations, the RSF carried out nearly 100 attacks against towns, farms, and people in North Darfur and Jebel Marra since 2016.

Officially, the RSF were integrated into the Sudanese army in August 2019. At the same time, however, the militia stays a force unto itself.

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