1 January 2016

Sudan: Children Burn in Third Day of Jebel Marra Attacks By Sudanese Army, RSF

Jebel Marra — Two children were burned to death as government troops supported by paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continued their attacks on villages in Darfur's East Jebel Marra today.

Omar Adam (5) and Majeed Isaac (7) died when their home was shelled from Dana by government forces and militias on Thursday. 15 houses burned to the ground in Dabanaira Village on the third day of intense attacks on the area by joint government forces.

Multiple witnesses told Radio Dabanga of ongoing artillery and aerial bombardment throughout Friday. "The area around Rockero, Rovta, Dibba Naira, and Tora is burning," they said. "You can see the fires from a long way off."

Listeners said that fighting continues between the mainstream Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW) has moved towards Rockero, Gildo, and Goloin in West and East Jebel Marra, involving "substantial contingents of government forces moping in two directions".

It is not yet possible to assess the number of casualties, but witnesses say that "dozens of wounded government troops" were transferred by vehicle to El Fasher on Friday.

"The situation is terrible for the civilians in the area. Indiscriminate shelling and bombing has forced most to flee into the mountains."

Ceasefire

Radio Dabanga was unable to reach either the government forces or the SLM-AW for up-to-date comment, however the flare-up of conflict over the last three days comes, puzzlingly, at the same time as an announcement on Thursday (as reported today by Radio Dabanga) by Sudan's President Omar Al Bashir that the current ceasefire is to be extended by one month. The ceasefire is part of a call for Sudan's armed movements to join the national dialogue.

The Jebel Marra massif lies in the centre of the Darfur region, bordering the state divisions of Central, South and North Darfur. It is a fertile region inhabited mainly by the Fur tribe and has since 2003 been the primary stronghold of the SLM-AW.

It is the only place in Darfur where armed opposition maintains prolonged control over territory and the only area in Darfur to which humanitarian organisations have had no access as of 2011.

Parts of the centre of the massif, the 'inner Jebel Marra area', are controlled by the Sudanese government and parts by the rebels.

Main obstacles to free and regular access to the area include restrictions by the parties to the conflict, preventing humanitarian organisations from entering both government and rebel-controlled areas.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan, there are about 365,000 people living in the greater Jebel Marra area. Approximately one third of them -20,000 people- live in the inner Jebel Marra.

Sudan

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