The USA has called on the Sudanese government, rebel forces, and militant tribal groups to stop fighting in the Jebel Marra region.
In a statement on Friday, the spokeswoman for the US Department of State, Heather Nauert, expressed Washington’s serious concerns about the recent fighting in Jebel Marra.
Nauert points to “credible reports” that villages were targeted during clashes between Sudanese government forces and the Sudan Liberation Movement faction headed by Abdelwahid El Nur (SLM-AW), “resulting in thousands of newly displaced civilians”.
The USA urges all sides –government forces, SLM-AW, and armed tribal groups– “to immediately halt their provocative actions and violent responses.
“In addition, the government should permit immediate and unhindered access by the United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid), UN Country Team elements, and national and international humanitarian agencies to the areas where violence is taking place, as well as to displaced populations.”
The spokeswoman further refers to the importance of the Sudanese government and the Darfur states’ governments “cooperating with Unamid” to establish the Jebel Marra Task Force.
“The USA implores all parties to redouble their commitment and take immediate steps towards a comprehensive peace process,” the statement concludes.
During the dry seasons (roughly between January-and May) in the past years, government forces have made various attempts to eliminate the SLM-AW bases in the Jebel Marra region.
In March this year, rebel sites in East Jebel Marra were attacked. The fighting caused an estimated 50,000 people to flee their villages in the area. In April, a large group of militiamen attacked and burned 13 villages in northern Jebel Marra.
Last year, the attacks focused on northwest Jebel Marra. According to an RSF spokesman in February 2017, Darfur became “free of armed movements, suspects, and outlaws, except for a small [SLM-AW] group stationed at the top of Jebel Marra”.
In 2016, more than 80,000 people were displaced by a major military offensive against the holdout rebels in the mountainous region of the Jebel Marra.