A large joint force of paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, army soldiers, and other Sudanese security forces has been deployed along the border with the Central African Republic (CAR).
Brig Gen Abashar Balayel, Commander of the joint force, told Sudan News Agency (SUNA) from Um Dukhun in Central Darfur on Wednesday that the force was formed to secure the border strip between Sudan and CAR.
A day earlier, on Tuesday, the Vice-President of the Sovereignty Council and Commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Mohamed ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo visiting South Darfur, announced the closure of the border after a force wearing RSF uniforms entered CAR, reportedly to overthrow the government in Bangui.
The joint force has been dispatched to specific locations, namely the border localities Um Dukhun, and the area of Abugaradil in Reheid El Berdi, and Um Dafoug (Um Dafug) locality in South Darfur, Balayil said after a meeting with members of the Um Dukhun Chamber of Commerce in Um Dukhun, the Darfur Peace and Reconciliation Committee, and native administration leaders and other notables living in the border areas.
The joint force will check the identity and destinations of people crossing the border will be verified in coordination with CAR authorities. Four-wheel drive vehicles will not be allowed to cross the border, the commander said.
The force will also “combat all negative phenomena such as arms trade, drugs smuggling and other security breaches that occur between the two countries”. The use of motorcycles, wearing a kadamol (scarf covering the face), carrying weapons and wearing military uniforms by civilians are prohibited in the border areas.
Brig Balayel pledged that the people living in these areas will not be affected by these security measures, which “will contribute to preserving and maintaining security and stability in the region”.
Um Dafoug in South Darfur however witnessed tension and the closure of the town’s market end December, after an RSF force arrived in the town “to combat negative phenomena” and shot two people dead and wounded a passer-by. Angry residents demanded the removal of the RSF force from the town.
The area of Um Dafoug is rich in gold as well, and Russian ‘Wagner’ mercenaries reportedly have been guarding gold mining companies in the area since 2021.
The Darfur Bar Association (DBA) reported in June last year that the mercenaries were specifically accused of attacks on artisanal gold miners in the locality. the Darfur lawyers placed moral responsibility on “everyone involved in granting concessions to companies and the paramilitary RSF for gold mining in the Sengo area in exchange for a share supplied by the Central Bank of Sudan”.
RSF in Beleil
In Beleil, South Darfur, men wearing uniforms of the RSF and driving in RSF vehicles were recorded on video during attacks on more than 10 villages in the area on December 21 and 23.
The Sultan of the Daju tribe said that the affected villagers hold the RSF responsible for the attacks and demanded their removal from the area.
RSF commander Lt Gen Mohamed ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo reported while visiting Nyala, capital of South Darfur, five days later that the RSF soldiers who appeared in video recordings in Beleil were arrested.
The attacks, by Rizeigat militants of whom many have joined the RSF, led to the displacement of 9,800 villagers, the Capacity Assessment Project organisation reported on Thursday.