12 February 2013

Sudan: 'Schools and Roads Closed, No Aid' in Al-Sref, North Darfur

Photo: Tim McKulka/UN Photo
Victims of ethnic violence receiving treatment at a hospital in Akobo, Sudan (file photo).

Al-Sref Beni Hussein — Schools and government institutions in Al-Sref Beni Hussein city, North Darfur, have been closed since the clashes between Abbala and Beni Hussein tribesmen over one month ago, as they are housing large numbers of displaced.

Hussein Haroun, commissioner of Al-Sref Beni Hussein locality added to Radio Dabanga on Tuesday that those who sought refuge in the capital have not yet received humanitarian aid. He attributed the problem to setbacks with transportation.

UNAMID declared delivering "tons of aid" to the displaced in North Darfur, but a later report indicated the government of North Dafur denied agencies' access to the affected areas.

Last week in a press release, the United States expressed concern about the "violent clashes between heavily armed tribal militias in North Darfur" and called on the Sudanese government to grant UN agencies unrestricted access to all areas of Darfur to deliver assistance.

Roads closed

The road connecting Al-Sref Beni Hussein and Kabkabiya has been reportedly closed since the eruption of the tribal fighting on 5 January, despite a ceasefire agreement signed between the warring parties 13 days later stipulating that all roads must be opened.

Hostilities between Beni Hussein citizens and "criminal gangs" led to the closure of the road between Al-Sref Beni Hussein and Saraf Omra last Friday, the commissioner said. It was reported that gangs killed two members of the Beni Hussein tribe, injured 10 and stole 53 of their cattle.

On his turn, the nazer (leader) of the Beni Hussein tribe Adam Abdul Karim described the security situation in the area as "very dangerous" as a result of daily lootings when speaking to Radio Dabanga.

Commissioner Haroun acknowledged that criminal gangs are carrying widespread looting in the area, exploiting the frail security conditions at the moment.

Witnesses said that "security conditions" are preventing nine lorries traveling from Atina to Saraf Omra to leave Al-Sref Beni Hussein, where they have been stuck for the last four days as the road is "blocked".

The commissioner confirmed this information when speaking to Radio Dabanga, but noted that trucks carrying non-food items are heading towards Al-Sref Beni Hussein from Saraf Omra and El-Fasher.

He stressed that people fleeing their villages continued to arrive in Al-Sref Beni Hussein until Tuesday and said that nine aid distribution centers were established in the town to support the displaced.

According to the Beni Hussein nazer, medicine is "lacking" in the region and food rations, provided by the government or by humanitarian organizations, have not yet arrived.

He did acknowledge the arrival of non-food items, such as blankets and tarps, which fulfilled the needs of 4.500 affected. However, the nazer stressed, there are still about 5.500 people living without cover or shelter.

Two killed

On Monday evening the citizen Mohammed Idris Ahmed, known as Palestine, was shot dead and Mohammed Osman, known as Batata, was injured when pro-government militias opened fire on them at the district of Musarig in Birka Saira, North Darfur.

Radio Dabanga reported 6 February that Saraf Omra had received 10.000 new displaced persons reportedly arriving from East Birka Saira and other nearby villages in the two previous days.

These people belong to the minority Arab tribes of Mussa Ba'ad, Mahadi and Hutiya, one of the displaced told Radio Dabanga. He stressed they fled to Saraf Omra because of harassments and threats by Abbala militias who wanted them gone to use their lands for grazing camels.

Witnesses said the militiamen beat and looted citizens and "cleaned up" the Musarig neighborhood in Birka Saira on Monday amid "a total absence of government troops".

According to them, militiamen have been based near Birka Saira for the past few days, blocking the roads and looting citizens who are trying to escape to Al-Sref Beni Hussein and Kabkabiya.

In January the UN stated the tribal clashes between the tribes of Abbala and Beni Hussein in North Darfur led to the biggest forced displacement in Darfur in years, estimating that about 100.000 people fled their homes.

Fighting erupted on 5 January over control of gold mines in Jebel 'Amer, Al-Sref Beni Hussein locality.

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