UN agency says at least 100 killed in clashes in Darfur over past week

Latest bout of tribal clashes underlines military's inability to maintain peace in the restive region

A Sudanese family pictured in 2019 at their makeshift shelter within the Kalma camp for internally displaced persons in Darfur, Sudan. Reuters
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Clashes pitting Arabs against ethnic Africans in Sudan’s turbulent Darfur region have resulted in the deaths of about 100 people in the past week, a reminder of the challenges facing the country as it faces growing economic and political woes.

Violence has surged in Darfur since the military seized power last October, derailing the country’s democratic transition and creating a climate conducive to lawlessness.

There has been no official word from the capital, Khartoum, about the latest violence.

The response by the military and security forces has been slow or inadequate, allowing the fighting in Darfur to continue.

The latest violence was the result of a land dispute between Arab and African tribes in the town of Kulbus in West Darfur province, according to Toby Harward of the UN refugee agency in Sudan.

In a series of tweets, Mr Harward said Arab militiamen attacked villages in the area, forcing thousands of people to flee.

Residents said that at least 62 of the victims were burnt after the militiamen torched more than 20 villages in reprisal.

Local official Abbas Mustafa said authorities sent more troops to the area, where violence is believed to have displaced about 5,000 families.

Mr Harward called in his tweets for neutral joint forces to provide protection for civilians in the area. “If there is no intervention or mediation, & violence is allowed to continue, farmers will not be able to cultivate & the agricultural season will fail,” he wrote.

In April, clashes caused the deaths of more than 200 people. The Sudanese military said at the time it sent a brigade to the province.

However, the violence has raised questions over whether the military is capable of restoring law and order in Darfur, where the UN Security Council ended its peacekeeping mission in 2020.

In recent months, aid workers have called on the UN to send peacekeepers back.

The Darfur conflict began in 2003, when ethnic Africans rebelled, accusing the Arab-dominated government in the capital Khartoum of discrimination.

The government of ousted dictator Omar Al Bashir was accused of retaliating by arming nomadic Arab tribes and unleashing militias known as the Janjaweed on civilians there.

Al Bashir, who has been in prison in Khartoum since he was removed from office in 2019, was charged more than a decade ago by the International Criminal Court with genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur.

Updated: June 13, 2022, 1:44 PM
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