West Darfur sit-in lifted, govt meets demands of protestors
The sit-in in the West Darfur capital El Geneina was lifted yesterday. A government delegation, led by Sovereignty Council member Mohamed El Faki, met most demands of the Arab tribesmen that set up the sit-in.
The sit-in, which blocked bridges and roads to and from the town, lasted for two weeks. It led to rising prices of basic commodities in El Geneina.
In a statement, the protestors committee stated their demands will be met “without any restrictions or conditions”. A time table will be set up for implementing the demands. The demands will be divided into four areas, political, humanitarian, social and legal.
Some of the protestor’s demands include the dismissal of the wali (governor) of West Darfur, Mohamed El Doma, moving camps for displaced people such as Ranadeg, Abu Dahar, El Hajaj from the state capital, and restructuring of the police force.
The protestors have given the government delegation 21 days to implement their demands. They threatened to continue their protests in the event that their demands will not be implemented.
Moahmed El Faki called on all parties involved in the conflict in El Geneina to coexist peacefully and spoke of the importance of accountability and stability. He also said that an team will arrive in the coming days to investigate the recent violent attacks.
He called on people to return to their work at the market. He stated that there are ongoing meetings with different parties and that some demands will be implemented immediately, others will be considered in the coming days, while the rest will be postponed until the government delegation returns.
El Faki called on the displaced to return to the camps and to leave the government facilities and schools currently being used as temporary shelters. Work and studies will be resumed, he said. He confirmed the state’s commitment to providing security for the displaced.
A delegation also visited Kerending camps in El Geneina to assess the extent of the damage suffered as a result of the recent violent attacks.
Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’, Commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Deputy Chair of the Sovereignty Council, confirmed the readiness of his troops to protect civilians and secure camps for the displaced, “so that they can return to their camps and leave the government institutions [where they sought refuge]”.
He also said that the delegation will continue working with all communities in El Geneina to address the roots of the problems so that conflicts do not occur in the future.
Yesterday, students from El Geneina demonstrated against harsh living conditions and rising prices.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced the arrival of 4,300 new refugees to Koushagin Moura camp in eastern Chad as a result of the violent events in El Geneina. Before arriving they had to complete a period of quarantine in the town of Adari.
UNHCR said that the new refugees need water, sanitation, and hygiene equipment. The camp needs improved services to accommodate the new inflow of refugees. The camp now hosts 8,400 refugees from Darfur.
El Geneina massacre
The recent excessive violence in El Geneina was triggered by the killing of an Arab herdsman by a member of the Masalit three weeks ago. Though the perpetrator was arrested, the relatives of the victim sought revenge by themselves. In the early morning of January 16, large groups of Arab tribesmen attacked El Geneina and the two Kerending camps “from all directions”. In the violence that continued the next days, at least 163 people were killed.
A week later, Arab tribesmen set up a sit-in in El Geneina. The sit-in attracted protestors from other areas in Darfur in the days after that.
Resistance Committees active in the neighbourhoods of El Geneina said in a statement ten days ago that they do not agree with the closure of the main roads in the state. The activists explained that "the sit-in was started in the name of certain tribes and was led by a number of supporters of the ousted Omar Al Bashir regime". They expressed their support to the wali, who gained his position under the auspices of the Sudanese revolution.
West Darfur is home to the Masalit, a non-Arab sedentary tribe. The governor and local government employees belong to this tribe.
Two weeks ago, a joint security force, consisting of Central Reserve Policy, army and RSF, is said to have been deployed in West Darfur in order to protect the people.
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