Humanitarian CrisesNews

Thousands Displaced After Attacks In Sudan’s West Darfur

The violence in Darfur is threatening food security in Sudan as over 18 million people are expected to go hungry during the lean season in 2022.

Thousands of people have been displaced following clashes between rival armed groups in West Darfur, Sudan.

The violence broke out on Friday, April 22, when armed tribesmen attacked villages of the non-Arab Masalit minority in the Krink region of West Darfur in retaliation for the killing of two tribesmen, according to the General Coordination for Refugees and Displaced, a local aid group.

At least 168 people have been reported dead on Sunday, April 24, the local aid group said in a statement. 

The violence forced many to flee their homes and seek refuge in nearby villages.  

According to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the attacks followed a similar pattern of violence in Kreinik town that displaced over 36,000 people and killed 67 people in Dec. 2021

“Towns in West Darfur are burning before our eyes, and communities are being assaulted over and over. This tragedy is quickly becoming a catastrophe. The deadly spiralling violence must end,” Will Carter, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Sudan, said in a statement on Monday, April 25.

The people affected in the latest attacks were displaced by previous violence in Kreinik town and are living in makeshift settlements.

NRC said it feared the violence could spread beyond Kreinik to reach West Darfur’s state capital of el Geneina where about 100,000 displaced people live in makeshift tents with nothing to protect themselves from “ stray bullets or violence.”

Tensions have risen in  El Geneina since the Kreinik violence, with gunshots being heard in the city. 

This, the NRC said, has led scores of terrified families to flee from settlement to settlement in desperate search for safety.

Surging violence

Since Oct. 2021, Darfur, which was ravaged by 2003 civil war, has seen a spike in attacks triggered by communal disputes mainly over land, livestock, and access to water and grazing.

The latest fighting comes a month after 35 people, including two Sudanese aid workers, were killed in Jebel Moon, West Darfur, forcing aid agencies to suspend activities.

This also comes as Sudan faces political stalemate since a military coup in Oct. 2021.

The clashes, experts say, raise questions over whether military leaders are capable of bringing security to Darfur.

In 2020, the UN Security Council ended its peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) in Darfur.

The withdrawal of the  peacekeeping force, the NRC said, removed a neutral deterrent to violence, and occurred in the wake of Darfur’s new chapter of conflict.

The violence in Darfur threatens the upcoming harvest season. More than 18 million people are likely to face acute food insecurity across the country by Sept. because of the combined effects of insecurity, economic crisis and poor harvests.

Humanitarian call  

Aid actors have called for immediate de-escalation of violence in the region.

“Safe and free passage of fleeing civilians and access for humanitarian assistance must be urgently restored,” Carter said.

“After experiencing brutal violence, these communities are once again left neglected and vulnerable, with no protection or accountability. The entire Darfur region is quickly sinking into conflict and needs urgent attention from the international community.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross called on authorities to ensure the safe arrival of the wounded to hospitals.

Condemning the violence, Volker Perthes, the UN special representative, called for an investigation, adding that perpetrators be brought to book.

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Aishat Babatunde

Aishat Babatunde heads the digital reporting desk. Before joining HumAngle, she worked at Premium Times and Nigerian Tribune. She is a graduate of English from the University of Ibadan.

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