News / Africa

In Darfur, New Fighting Leads to New Displacement

Ashia Saleh, from Barkatil village, holds her baby inside a make shift tent at the Kalma refugee camp for internally displaced people, south of the Darfur town of Nyala, Sudan, March 9, 2014. (Credit: UNAMID)
Ashia Saleh, from Barkatil village, holds her baby inside a make shift tent at the Kalma refugee camp for internally displaced people, south of the Darfur town of Nyala, Sudan, March 9, 2014. (Credit: UNAMID)
— In Sudan, renewed violence in the Darfur region has left more than 100,000 people newly homeless.  Amnesty International says the nature of the conflict in Darfur has changed over the years and the latest violence is mainly inter-communal fighting.

The human rights group's new report, entitled We Can’t Endure Any More," detailed how armed men from both government-linked militias and rebel groups target civilians and subject them to abuses and killings.

The report also documented attacks and counterattacks against civilians as the Salamat and the Misseriya tribes continued to fight in Central Darfur.

According to Michelle Kagari, Amnesty's East Africa deputy director, her organization has documented human rights violations that amounted to war crimes.

“We’ve had specific killings, targeting their villages with the view to destroy their livelihoods, burning down the villages, burning down the fields, stealing people’s livestock, destroying irrigation systems.  And of course we’ve documented sexual and gender based violence against women and girls,” she said.  

Eleven years ago, the Sudanese government launched counter-insurgency military action after rebel groups began an uprising in Darfur.  Years of violence led to the deaths of more than 300,000 people and displaced about three million.

The International Criminal Court has since indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in the region, and issued a warrant for his arrest.

Peace efforts by the government of Qatar and the East African regional bloc IGAD have largely stalled and fighting still continues between the pro-government militias and various rebel factions.

Abdullah Adam Khatir, a writer and a political analyst based in Khartoum, said it was time to open a peace forum for all warring groups in Darfur so they could all be involved in the peace process.

“Some people are suggesting, why [do we have] different forums of peace, that is in Addis Ababa and in Doha and in other place?  Why don’t they get them all together and form one Sudanese forum for peace, for all Sudan?  But nobody knows if this could be taken for consideration and if international community will take it ahead or not,” said Khatir.

After weeks of fighting, British charity Oxfam said many of the civilians who have fled had no access to essential humanitarian assistance and were unable to reach safety.

To help the desperate population, Oxfam has launched a relief operation aimed at reaching more than 90,000 people.

Oxfam Sudan’s country director, El Fateh Osman, said the affected people wanted peace more than anything.

“People need more than just clean water or food.  They need safety, they need to know that their families and communities are safe from any future attacks.  People need peace and stability in Darfur,” Osman said.

Kagari of Amnesty International is calling on international actors to do more to stop the suffering and killings of civilians.

“There has been almost guaranteed impunity from the start and 11 years on we are seeing more of the same with civilians being constantly harassed and being chased from their homes and being specifically targeted.  Therefore its time, it’s long overdue that the international community got serious and tackle this impunity,” she said.

Meanwhile, the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reports the situation in Safar Omar, North Darfur, has returned to relative normalcy after the rival communities agreed to end hostilities.

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