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SLM-AW: 'Outbreak of disease in Jebel Marra'

Troops of the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW, file photo)
Troops of the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW, file photo)

The Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW) has reported an increase in the cases of pneumonia, diarrhoea, measles and anaemia, and incidences of miscarriage in several areas of Jebel Marra.

The rebel movement holds several areas in Jebel Marra under its control, which is the main reason why the Sudanese government does not allow access there for humanitarian aid assistance.

In a press statement, the SLM-AW said: “These diseases have led to deaths among children.

“These diseases, of which no causes have yet been identified, are increasing,” the movement claimed, expressing its concern for a larger outbreak of diseases in the rebel-hold areas.

The Sudanese government, after its decision to expel international aid organisations from Jebel Marra and Darfur, has prevented the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (Unamid) and humanitarian organisations from reaching the areas under the rebels' control.

The SLM-AW said that the authorities have also prevented the entry of traders with goods into the area, “as part of their use of [shortages of, RD] food and medicines as a weapon against Sudanese citizens”.

Jebel Marra in Central Darfur, map by OCHA (2017)

Jebel Marra access

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan, during the first half of 2018, some 15,000 people were newly displaced in Darfur, all of which was in and from Jebel Marra. In Radio Dabanga’s ongoing reporting on the renewed heavy clashes in Darfur’s Jebel Marra, the SLM-AW was the only armed movement reported to be involved in the fighting.

The mountainous Jebel Marra is the only place in Darfur where armed opposition maintains prolonged control over territory and the only area in Darfur to which humanitarian organisations had no access between 2011 and 2015. For this reason, access restrictions have been put in place by Khartoum for government- and rebel-controlled areas.

As the latest periodic report by UN Secretary-General António Guterres to the UN Security Council of January 14 pointed out: “Notwithstanding sustained and positive engagement between state authorities and Unamid, corroborating reports on human rights incidents in Central Darfur continued to be a challenge.”

In September 2018, however, the SLM-AW announced a ceasefire to facilitate access and relief aid to a landslide-affected area in East Jebel Marra. Abdelgader Gadoura, commander-in-chief of the movement, said in November that although the SLM-AW has declared a ceasefire, the regime has continued to breach the agreement.

Peace process

The SLM-AW, that, together with the Justice and Equality Movement took up arms against the Khartoum government in 2002-03, has witnessed a number of splits. The largest one was the breakaway of a group led by Minni Minawi in 2006. They were divided on the issue of the Darfur Peace Agreement.

Still, Abdelwahid El Nur and his movement resolutely refuse to enter into talks or negotiations with the Khartoum government. Last month, the head of the Unamid Joint Special Representative (JSR), Jeremiah Mamabolo, renewed his appeal to the holdout rebel leader to join the peace process.

Mamabolo’s remarks drew sharp criticism from the heads of Darfur’s armed movements. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Sudan Liberation Movement faction led by Arko Minni Minawi (SLM-MM), the opposition Sudanese Congress Party, and Abdelwahid El Nur himself, all strongly criticised Mamabolo, accusing him of exceeding his mandate.

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