While All Eyes Are On Khartoum, Inter-Communal Violence Intensifies in Darfur – GCR2P

On Sunday, 5 December, Arab Janjaweed militia attacked the Kreinik displacement camp in Sudan’s West Darfur region, torching houses, killing at least 48 people and injuring 40 others. The clashes allegedly grew out of a financial dispute between two individuals in the displacement camp. This deadly clash is part of a new wave of inter-communal violence in the Darfur region that has escalated in intensity and frequency in recent months.

From 9 October to 20 November, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies documented nine incidents involving attacks on civilians in West and North Darfur. Clashes between Arab herders and farmers of the Misseriya Jebel community in West Darfur’s Jebel Moon locality from 17-19 November resulted in at least 50 people killed, nearly 10,000 people displaced and 594 houses destroyed and looted. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the situation in Jebel Moon remains “tense and unpredictable.” Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported on 7 December that its teams have received “alarming reports” from other parts of Darfur about sexual violence and the destruction of villages.

While inter-communal clashes are not uncommon during the harvest season and are often related to nomadic movements, the level of violence has spiked since the joint United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur withdrew in December 2020. Throughout 2021, UNHCR has recorded more than 200 incidents of violence in the Darfur region.

Such clashes pose a significant challenge to Sudanese authorities who are grappling with bringing an end to decades-long conflict and atrocities in Darfur, South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile states. During his 30-year dictatorship, former President Omar al-Bashir and other government officials were responsible for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and acts of genocide while fighting armed groups in these states. Following Bashir’s ousting in April 2019, considerable progress has been made in bringing parties to the conflict together, including the historic Juba peace agreement signed in October 2020 between the government and several armed groups.

However, the 25 October military coup may impede these peacebuilding efforts. The recent spate of attacks in Darfur has also largely been overshadowed by the political turmoil and government crackdown in Khartoum and other large cities following the coup.

On 25 November the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan reminded the Sudanese authorities that “their responsibility to protect civilians is not diminished despite the current political situation.” The ongoing political instability in Khartoum should not distract the authorities from urgently addressing increasing violence and advancing peacebuilding efforts in Darfur. Sudanese authorities must also take immediate steps to disarm ethnic militias and other armed groups, ensure justice for past atrocities, and provide effective protection to all vulnerable populations in Darfur.

The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (GCR2P) is an independent organization that focuses on conducting research analysis and advocacy in relation to mass atrocity.

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