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Darfur: More information on the El Geneina attacks

January 21 - 2021 EL GENEINA / KHARTOUM
Destruction in El Geneina after the violent attacks on the weekend (RD)
Destruction in El Geneina after the violent attacks on the weekend (RD)

It is estimated that roughly 60,000 people are now displaced within the city El Geneina itself following the escalation of violence in, and around, West Darfur’s state capital. The total number of people that have fled their homes is thought to be more than 90,000. Even though the curfew was loosened after the apparent restoration of calm in the town, there are still reports of attacks. These included the attempted assassination of the West Darfur wali (governor). Activists and politicians have expressed anger over the slow government response.

The Displaced People Gathering, with members from the El Jebel neighbourhood and other outskirts of El Geneina, as well as Kerending camps for the displaced, in particular the Abuzar camp, estimated the current number of people who fled their homes during this weekend’s violent events, and sought refuge in central El Geneina, at more than 60,000. Another 40,000 people fled to neighbouring villages.

The death toll of the bloody attacks by gunmen on El Geneina on Saturday and Sunday reached 159.

The excessive violence this weekend was triggered by the killing of an Arab herdsman by a member of the Masalit tribe near El Geneina on Friday. Though the perpetrator was arrested, the relatives of the victim sought revenge by themselves. In response, large groups of Arab tribesmen attacked El Geneina and the two Kerending camps near the town “from all directions” in the early hours of Saturday. According to the Darfur Bar Association (DBA), they were supported by groups of gunmen from North and Central Darfur and the border area with Chad.

Civil society activists reported on Tuesday that gunmen were still roaming the area

In a statement, the Gathering appealed to “all national and international organisations, civil society organisations, Resistance Committees, women's organisations, youth and student associations, and businessmen in the country to provide humanitarian and health assistance in shelter centres and displacement sites. The gathering also indicated that there are elderly people, children, pregnant women, and infants among those suffering from the violence.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimated that the violent incidents ofin El Geneina caused the displacement of 9,230 families and 46,150 individuals, who are currently seeking shelter in 32 schools and other public buildings across the state capital. 

The West Darfur Massacres Committee reported gunmen have stormed seven of these displacement centres. In a press conference yesterday in Khartoum, committee member Abdo Ishag, said that armed groups are still roaming El Geneina.

The committee called for the formation of an international investigation committee to figure out exactly what happened at the Kerending camps, and for a report to be sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Ishag stated that the committee holds both the central government and the military commander of the El Geneina base responsible for the escalation of the violence and demands the commander’s dismissal.

West Darfur Governor Mohamed El Doma said on Sunday that the government forces present in the area did not move until ten o’clock on Saturday. The DBA has called for an investigation into the delayed response of the army commander in El Geneina.

Activists in West Darfur also condemned “the complete silence of government forces” and hold them responsible for the many dead and injured. They also appealed to “all who have a conscience to extend a helping hand” and affirmed their support for the governor’s efforts to quell the violence. 

Assassination attempt

Yesterday evening, the DBA gave more information on the gunmen who attempted to storm the residence of Governor El Doma on Tuesday evening. In a statement, the DBA explained that this was an assassination attempt. The guards of the house managed to confront the attackers, who fled.

The statement further said that El Doma is in good health and is continuing doing his duties.

The curfew in the state has now been loosened by the state government following the return of calm in the capital, to some degree. From Wednesday onwards, the curfew lasts from 19:00 to 06:00. Staff of humanitarian organisations, medical and health organisations, or water and electricity corporations are excluded. 

Tribal fighting

South Darfur also witnessed deadly tribal fighting this week, which cost the lives of at least 70 people from both sides of the conflict. Earlier, Fallata leaders reported that the death toll of the attack launched by Rizeigat gunmen on El Tawil village in South Darfur on Monday has risen to at least 56 people. More than 37 other were wounded.

Darfur has witnessed a surge of crime and violence recently. The governor of Central Darfur has warned for an increase in this violence now that the UNAMID mission is withdrawing from the region. Protests against the insecurity and violence, and against the UNAMID exit, have taken place all over Darfur.


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