Roads, bridges, and air routes into El Geneina have been blocked by a sit-in held by Arab tribesmen since Sunday in the capital of West Darfur, causing complete isolation of the town from the rest of the region and outcry from Resistance Committees active in the town.
On Sunday, Arab herdsmen set up a large sit-in in the West Darfur capital to protest against the policies of the West Darfur government. They closed the road to El Geneina airport, which led the wali (governor) of West Darfur, Mohamed El Doma, to close the airport on Monday. They demand the dismissal of the wali, removal of camps for the displaced from the town, and an El Geneina police force restructure.
Resistance Committees active in the neighbourhoods of El Geneina said in a statement yesterday, that they do not agree with the closure of the main roads in the state. The activists explained that "the sit-in was started in the name of certain tribes and was led by a number of supporters of the ousted Omar Al Bashir regime." They expressed their support to the wali, who gained his position under the auspices of the Sudanese revolution.
West Darfur is home to the Masalit, a non-Arab sedentary tribe, and the governor and local government employees belong to this tribe.
The sit-in has also caused a lack of supply of basic goods, including medical supplies, along with disrupting travel of people who work outside of the town, noted the Resistance Committees’ statement. The protesters reportedly acknowledge that the road closures are causing suffering, calling on the government to quickly meet their demands.
Doctor Jaafar Farah, a member of the initiative’s committee, appealed in a press conference at Sudan News Agency yesterday to various sectors and entities of society to join this initiative. He called for participation in providing urgent aid and essential life-saving needs to Darfur following the spate of violence in the region.
El Geneina massacre
The excessive violence in El Geneina was triggered by the killing of an Arab herdsman by a member of the Masalit. Though the perpetrator was arrested, the relatives of the victim sought revenge by themselves. In the early morning of January 16, large groups of Arab tribesmen attacked El Geneina and the two Kerending camps “from all directions”. In the violence that continued the next days, at least 163 people were killed.
The protesting Arab tribesmen are reportedly also angry because the Governor claimed that the Arab tribesmen who attacked the city and the camps were supported by groups from North and Central Darfur and from the border area with Chad.