The death toll of the bloody attacks by gunmen on the state capital El Geneina on Saturday and Sunday has risen to 159. More than 90,000 people fled their homes. Activists condemn ‘the silence of the government forces’. Gunmen are still roaming the area. Security agents have prevented an attack on the residence of the West Darfur governor yesterday evening.
The West Darfur Doctors Committee reported in a statement yesterday that hospitals in El Geneina received 29 more bodies in the morning, as expected. One of the victims succumbed to his wounds in the Military Hospital.
The hospitals in El Geneina received five more wounded on Monday, bringing the number of wounded to 203 – of whom 16 had to be transferred to hospitals in Khartoum.
A medical support team with specialised physicians and surgeons arrived in El Geneina from Khartoum yesterday morning, the Doctors Committee stated. All wounded have been taken care of.
The excessive violence was triggered by the killing of an Arab herdsman by a member of the Masalit tribe near El Geneina on Friday. Though the perpetrator was arrested, the relatives of the victim sought revenge by themselves.
Large groups of armed men attacked El Geneina and the two Kerending camps near the town “from all directions” in the early hours of Saturday. According to the Darfur Bar Association (DBA), they were supported by groups of gunmen from North and Central Darfur and the border area with Chad.
West Darfur Governor Mohamed El Doma said on Sunday that the government forces present in the area did not move until ten o’clock on Saturday. The DBA has called for an investigation into the delayed response of the army commander in El Geneina.
In a statement today, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Babacar Cissé, condemned the recent killing of three staff members of aid organisations, one with his family, in the context of inter-communal violence in West Darfur.
He also expressed "grave concerns on the escalation of violence in West Darfur and urged all those involved to halt violence immediately". He stressed the necessity of safety and security of the people receiving and delivering aid and called for the perpetrators to be held accountable.
Gunmen still present despite curfew
The Sudanese Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) reported that about 50,000 residents of the Kerending camps sought refuge inside El Geneina town. Another 40,000 fled to neighbouring villages.
Food, water and health are the top priorities, HAC stated. It has dispatched four trucks containing aid, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan reported yesterday in an update on the situation.
A curfew is in force across West Darfur, with humanitarian organisations exempted. Security forces have been authorised to use “all force necessary” to contain the situation.
The Resistance Committees being active in the neighbourhoods of El Geneina have set up an emergency room to provide humanitarian and medical aid. In a statement yesterday, called on relief organizations to “urgently intervene”, and on the Sudanese government “to play its role and protect its citizens”.
Civil society activists in West Darfur appealed to “all who have a conscience to extend a helping hand” to those who fled the violence. Thousands of residents of the Kerending camps for the displaced lost their homes and the nearby villages of Gokar, Hashaba, Enjeimi, Asonga Tarkin are in urgent need of assistance.
They said in a statement yesterday that the collecting of bodies from the Kerending camps has not yet been completed, because gunmen are still roaming the place and plundering the abandoned homes.
The activists affirmed their support for the governor’s efforts to quell the violence. They condemned “the complete silence of government forces”, and hold them responsible for the many dead and injured.
Chad not involved
The Governor of West Darfur, Mohamed El Doma invited the Chadian Chargé d'Affairs to El Geneina to offer his apologies for his statements that the attackers came from Chad.
He told the Chadian official yesterday that he did not accuse the government in N’Djamena of being involved in the violence, but “loose groups coming from Chad, which may be Sudanese or non-Sudanese.
“These gangs of armed robbers are responsible for the insecurity in West Darfur and the neighbouring areas in Chad.”
El Doma acknowledged that the monitoring of the West Darfur-Chad border is not easy as it is more than 700 kilometres long, and praised the joint Sudanese-Chadian border force for their efforts.
Sherif Zein, the Chadian Minister of Information and official spokesperson for the Chadian government, denied on Monday that Chadians participated in the attacks on El Geneina. He said that the Chadian-Sudanese joint force has not recorded any crossing of armed groups into Sudan recently.
Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’, Vice Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, and Commander-in-Chief of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia, also pointed to “an internal strife”. According to Hemeti, “certain parties want to spread chaos in the country and extend the transitional period to ten years”.
In his address at the graduation ceremony of young RSF recruits of the Thunderbolt Round and the Peace Shield Forces at the El Fatasha military training camp north of Omdurman yesterday, Hemeti warned against “those who are trying to drag the country into a dangerous situation similar to what is happening in Yemen”.
He told the new members of the Peace Shield Forces who will be dispatched to Darfur, to protect the people in the region following the exit of the joint UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
On Tuesday evening, a group of gunmen attempted to storm the residence of the governor in El Geneina.
The government of West Darfur officially condemned the attack. It said in a statement early this morning that security forces managed to expel the assailants. No one was hurt.
The attacks are “part of a plot to undermine efforts being exerted to maintain security, stability and peace in the state,” the statement said.