Sudan: Careful Calm in El Geneina After Violence Left At Least 87 Dead

A panoramic view of al Geneina in West Darfur, Sudan, where the inter-communal violence is reported to have started.

El Geneina / Khartoum — The West Darfur Doctors Committee revealed that another 37 people have been killed and another 59 wounded since Tuesday morning, bringing the total number of deaths caused by the recent tribal clashes in the state capital El Geneina to 87 and the total number of injuries to 191. Yesterday saw calm somewhat restored but the situation remains tense.

The people of El Geneina explained that they suffer severely under the continuing violence and described the situation as "tragic". They said that people were unable to treat the wounded because of the lack of security and it remained impossible to transfer a large number of the bodies to the morgue.

They said the withdrawal of forces has led to the deterioration of the security situation in El Geneina. The people explained that the remaining forces are unable to provide security and they called for the protection of medical personnel so that they can carry out their tasks and treat the wounded.

The residents further explained that there was a lack of drinking water. They said that the price of a barrel of water now ranges between SDG 3000 to SDG 5000.

Residents reported to Reuters that the streets have now grown quieter, with government troops arriving in the city for the first time since a state of emergency was announced on Monday. The situation remains tense, however.

West Darfur Doctors Committee

The local doctors' committee explained that the wounded and injured are receiving medical care at El Geneina Teaching Hospital, El Naseem Hospital, and other facilities.

In their third statement on the conflict, the committee condemned the attacks on health facilities and affirmed their neutrality. They called the targeting of health facilities "barbaric behaviour that cannot be justified under any circumstances".

The committee also renewed its call to the state and federal authorities to meet West Darfur's urgent humanitarian needs.

They explained that ambulances came under fire yesterday while trying to reach the World Health Organization (WHO) base but that no casualties were reported. Radio Dabanga reported earlier that another ambulance was attacked by gunmen and a hospital suffered damage after a grenade hit the building.

The doctors said that the violence limited the access of supply teams to the base and that, as a result, many types of medicines and other goods are now out of stock.

The committee indicated that there were very few health workers available and that they work long hours without any rest. They explained that many workers can't reach health facilities because of the violence.

They further explained that electricity and water supply to the city and its hospitals continues to be cut off, warning that there could be a complete collapse of medical services without urgent intervention.

Concerns for Darfur's displaced

The General Coordination of Camps for the Displaced and Refugees in West Darfur said that the wounded in El Geneina are facing death as there is currently no way that they can be safely evacuated. In a statement published yesterday, the organisation called for immediate and urgent intervention by the United Nations (UN) in accordance with Chapter VII to protect the displaced.

The organisation announced its complete loss of confidence in the government and accused the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of committing violent crimes. They demanded that the forces be abolished by the state.

In its statement, the organisation also condemned the storming of Abu Zur camp and other neighbourhoods in El Geneina. Earlier, it revealed that five neighbourhoods in the city and three camps for the displaced had been attacked.

In Khartoum, a meeting took place between all present ambassadors and members of the UN Security Council to discuss necessary and appropriate measures to ensure the protection of the displaced and those affected by the current human rights violations.

The Darfur Bar Association (DBA) accused members of the government of being involved in conflicts in West Darfur. In a statement, they said that the government had not demonstrated any ability or willingness to protect the people in El Geneina. The organisation also stressed that many of them are now displaced.

The Communist Party of Sudan (CPoS) held the military and security forces responsible for the events in El Geneina and the general chaos in Darfur. They also blamed the Military Council as it is responsible for appointing the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Interior Affairs.

In a statement, the CPoS demanded the restructuring of the military apparatus to transform it into a national apparatus, so that forces will not take sides or perpetuate ongoing conflicts.

El Geneina Violence

El Geneina is still recovering from the violence in January when large groups of armed men from Arab herding communities attacked El Geneina and the two Kerending camps, killing at least 163 people and leaving more than 130,000 people displaced. The violence took place just weeks after the exit of the joint United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

A July 25 attack by armed men on the West Darfur town of Misterei left at least 60 people dead, a third of the town was burned to the ground by gunmen affiliated with the previous dictatorship of Omar Al Bashir. The end of 2019 also saw violence at the Kerending camps in which more than 80 people were killed and at least 47,000 displaced. The violence was linked to the previous regime as well and many militant herders who committed the violence drove in Rapid Support Forces* (RSF) vehicles.

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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