The United Nations reported a new carnage of over 60 people in western Sudan’s Darfur on July 27, while the country’s prime minister assured new troops for the region affected by the conflict.
The attackers targeted members of the local Masalit community by looting and burning houses and part of the local market, a UN statement said. About 500 armed men stormed Masteri Town, north of Beida, Darfur, on Saturday afternoon, according to a note from the local United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
OCHA in Khartoum said this was one of the latest in a series of security incidents reported in the past week that has resulted in numerous accidents, market looting, and infrastructure damage. Following Saturday’s attack on Masteri, around 500 local people staged a protest demanding more protection from the authorities.On Sunday, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said the government had sent security forces to the conflict-affected Darfur to protect citizens and the agricultural season.
The new protection forces should include the army and police, according to local sources, after a meeting between regional authorities. On Friday, an armed group attacked a village and killed 20 civilians returning to their camps for the first time in years AFP reported.
The new wave of violence also forced Save the Children to close departments providing health services and meals for 14,000 children. Save the Children stated on Friday that five children were among the dead in the raid on Masteri, declaring the temporary closure of two health facilities and its field office in the town, cutting off more than 14,000 children from life-saving health assistance. The health facilities were the only two hubs which provided well-being and food services for kids in the area, the organization stressed in a press release.
Darfur has been devastated since 2003 by a conflict between ethnic minority rebels and forces fuelled by President Omar Al Bashir, now expelled, including the feared Janjaweed militia, mainly recruited by tribes of Arab shepherds. Violence in Darfur has diminished since the army’s expulsion of Bashir amid mass protests against his government last year.
The government and a coalition of nine rebel groups, including factions from the region, signed a preliminary peace deal in January. Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity in the conflict.
Since then, farmers displaced by the fighting have started returning to their lands with a government-sponsored deal reached two months ago, in time for the July-November planting season. But the bloodshed has continued, particularly regarding land rights, according to expert Adam Mohammad. The land issue is one of the causes of the conflict, he said. During the war, local communities fled their lands and villages, and the nomads replaced them settling there.
In late June and early July, protesters camped for days outside a government headquarters in the city of Nertiti, in central Darfur, to ask the authorities to strengthen security after an accident resulting in the killings of farmers and property owners.
The escalation of violence in various parts of the Darfur region is leading to an increase in displaced persons, compromising the agricultural season, causing the loss of crops and livelihoods, and driving the growing humanitarian needs, the OCHA statement said.