North Darfur affected by fighting, cattle thefts, displacement
North Darfur witnessed several robberies of livestock and rapes by militiamen on Thursday. UNOCHA paints a bleak picture of the displacement, owing to Sudan’s military campaign, of tens of thousands of people.
On Thursday, several attacks, robberies of livestock, and rapes by pro-government militiamen took place in North Darfur, where many government forces and militias have assembled since the launch of an extensive military campaign in East Jebel Marra. Many villages have emptied and the UN humanitarian office believes that tens of thousands civilians are displaced in two weeks' time.
Militiamen raped six girls and robbed people of their livestock in villages in Tawila locality, frightening thousands of residents into fleeing their homes. Omda Mukhtar Bosh, coordinator of the camps for displaced people in the locality, told Radio Dabanga about the attack in Kunjara, Um Burma, Tabla, Hillet Gargaf, and Haskanita, which are located about 15 km east of Tawila town.
“A large group of government-backed militia members who belong to militia leader Badur Abu Kineish swept through the villages on Thursday. They released their camels onto the farms. After that, they entered the villages and robbed people inside their houses. They also stole all the livestock,” the omda said.
“As a result, thousands of villagers have fled, and many arrived in Rwanda, Tawila, Dali and Argo camps since Friday morning.” Bosh described their situation as “very bad”, because the newcomers have to share shelters and tents with the people already living in the camp. “Many are forced to stay in the open, without covers, in the extreme cold of these days,” the camp official said.
In a separate raid in Haskanita, militiamen surrounded the village, and forced all men inside the mosque. While the men were inside, several militia member raped six girls, who are aged between 15 and 20 years old, according to Bosh. The wounded girls are transferred to a hospital in El Fasher. “The militiamen also pillaged the houses in Haskanita.”
"Sudanese forces watched the militamen taking all the livestock."
Via Radio Dabanga, he appealed to the North Darfur state authorities to arrest the perpetrators. He also asked them to provide plastic sheets, blankets, and food for the refugees and displaced in Tawila's camps.
Pro-government militiamen also entered several villages west of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, and robbed the residents of their livestock. The villages are Shagara, Golo, Guruga, Um Ashoush, Kuem, Terkeina, and Jega, according to a witness. “All the time during the robbery, the government forces were watching,” he claimed.
In northern Kutum locality, all schools, hospitals, and markets in the villages of Birdik, Anka, Wedja, and Amrai were closed since last Friday, following robberies by pro-government militiamen in the area. At least seven villages emptied after an attack, a source in the area said. He added that thousands of people scattered into the surrounding valleys.
Bearing in mind the lack of food and water and the extreme cold they are facing, the witness expects many of the refugees to die. Fleeing to safe areas and camps is almost impossible, because the militiamen have barred the roads leading to Mellit, El Fasher, and Kutum.
Another robbery took place in the area on Thursday evening, during which a number of civilians were beaten. Four of them are seriously wounded: Hamadun Adam Mohamed, Osman Suleiman Hamid, Salah Adelhamid Jaber, and Ali Ibrahim. The witness said: “The militiamen emptied the stables and fled with the camels, cows, and many sheep into the direction of Kabkabiya.”
Community leaders in Tawila locality informed humanitarian organisations on the ground that 15 villages were burned to the ground and another 30 villages have been abandoned as tens of thousands fled their homes during the first days of January. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported this in its latest news bulletin.
The Sudanese Humanitarian Aid Commission reported to OCHA that 21 villages in the Fanga Admin Unit of northern Jebel Marra area were attacked and burned by armed groups. It estimated that up to 50,000 people could have been displaced.
'Access to the Jebel Marra area has been restricted due to these ongoing military operations,' OCHA writes. UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told reporters on Thursday that an inter-agency mission to Tawila is planned later this week, to verify displacement figures and assess needs.