West Darfur gov: perpetrators of ‘treacherous attacks’ affiliated with former regime
West Darfur Wali (governor) Mohamed El Doma reported yesterday that the number of victims of the ‘treacherous attacks’ on El Geneina has risen to 132 deaths and another 208 injuries. The wali explained that the attackers belong to ‘well-known militias’ affiliated with the former regime of dictator Omar Al Bashir.
He said in a press conference that the shooting in El Geneina had stopped but that the violence, plundering, and torching of buildings continued in the peripheral neighbourhoods yesterday. Both heavy and light weapons were used.
The wali described the conditions as ‘stable to some extent’ with food, electricity, and water shortages. Especially vegetables and bread are in short supply. He noted that electricity and water supply had briefly returned on Wednesday evening but that the supply was again interrupted soon after.
With regards to the identity of the attackers, El Doma explained that the attackers belong to well-known militias originally recruited by the former regime of dictator Omar Al Bashir. The regime had supplied these militias with heavy weapons and vehicles. The wali explained that these gunmen have not yet been successfully removed and remain present in all areas of West Darfur.
He also stressed that there is evidence of gunmen from Chad and Libya participating in the violence, along with militiamen from North, South, and Central Darfur. The wali explained that the militiamen who travelled to West Darfur participated in the killing and plundering and contributed to the instability in the state.
According to El Doma, the attackers wear military uniforms and sometimes a kadamool (scarf covering the face). He denied that they had any evidence of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces* (RSF) participating in the attacks. He also indicated that it is the responsibility of the Public Prosecution Office to investigate the incidents.
Civilians and organisations have called for international intervention. The wali has explained that, in his opinion, people have the right to demand international intervention and protection because of the general state of despair and anger among the people. At the same time, he stressed that he does not support the demand for international intervention because the government could still do something to protect civilians.
El Doma explained that the West Darfur government has demanded additional forces from Khartoum because the attacks were greater and more severe than the capacity of the security forces in West Darfur is able to handle. He explained that the local security forces “do not have any forces, capabilities, or equipment to deal with the attackers”.
He further said that West Darfur lacks judges and prosecutors to deal with the aftermath of the violence.
The governor also pointed to a feeling of injustice among the West Darfuri because the federal government did not send forces to protect them. He accused the government of failing to see what is happening in West Darfur.
El Doma asked the government to play its role in protecting civilians as militiamen are still attacking and plundering homes.
The West Darfur Doctors Committee
The West Darfur Doctors Committee renewed its calls to the authorities to support and protect health facilities and secure access to supply warehouses as stocks of many medicines and consumables are about to run out.
The doctors committee reported 38 news deaths and 17 more injuries on Thursday afternoon, bringing the total toll from the beginning of the events to 132 deaths and 208 injuries.
In its statement yesterday, the committee said that these records only include the cases that medical teams have been able to verify. They indicated that it is possible that victims are not included in the inventory.
Displaced people in the area said they found 64 bodies but cited security obstacles that prevented them from reaching the sites of some bodies.
The High Committee to Stop the Massacres in West Darfur organised a march to the offices of the United Nations in Khartoum yesterday to demand an urgent intervention to protect the people and the displaced in the state.
Hundreds of activists participated in the procession and chanted slogans calling for the removal of the Rapid Support Forces from El Geneina. They condemned human rights violations.
Speakers said that the national government's insistence on trying to address the El Geneina problem on a tribal basis is the main reason for the new attack on the state capital. Governor El Doma explained to the New Humanitarian that the violence “is not tribal, it is political”.
According to the news source, residents of the Kerending camps accuse the RSF of being complicit in the massacre, either by supplying weapons and vehicles to Arab militiamen or by fighting. “We saw the RSF shooting, killing, and burning our homes,” a displaced woman told the news source.
Darfur has a long history of strife between often Arab herding tribes and non-Arab African herders or sedentary farmers, which were exploited by the previous regime of dictator Al Bashir who supported the Janjaweed militia that carried out many attacks on farmers. Al Bashir employed these militias, largely made up of Arab nomads, to repress a revolt over ethnic discrimination in the region, mainly targeting non-Arab African farmers. According to the UN, the conflict left at least 300,000 people dead and displaced more than 2.5 million.
*Officially, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia, set up by the ousted Al Bashir regime in 2013, was integrated into the Sudan Armed Forces in August last year, however, the militia remains a force unto itself, commanded by Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’, who also is Deputy President of Sudan’s Sovereign Council.
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