Panafrican News Agency

UPDATE: Sudan sends security reinforcement to protect citizens, property in West Darfur

Khartoum, Sudan (PANA) - Sudan says it has sent security reinforcements to protect citizens and property and also maintain security following violence in West Darfur at the weekend in which at  least 83 people, including women and children, have been killed.

More than 160 people have also been wounded in the inter-communal clashes with several houses destroyed and about 50,000 people displaced. A curfew has been imposed in the area.

The state-run Sudan News Agency (SUNA) said the Minister of Defence, Lt-General, Yassin Ibrahim, speaking after an emergency meeting of the Security and Defence Council, said a committee would be set up to determine the root cause of the problem.

The government would also enforce laws, complete the redeployment of the joint forces to protect civilians and implement urgent joint operations to collect unlicensed firearms.

The emergency meeting of the Security and Defence Council, which discussed the security situation in the country, was chaired by the Head of the Transitional Sovereignty Council, Lt-General, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan.

SUNA said the violence happened on Saturday when a group militias attacked Al-Genaina city, capital of Genaina, West Darfur.

It said the attack targeted the Kerainding camp for displaced persons. 

SUNA did not state the cause of the attack but media reports indicate that the violence involved the Massalit tribe and Arab nomads and descended into fighting involving armed militias in the area.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has, meanwhile, voiced deep concerns over escalating violence in West Darfur and called on the Sudanese authorities to “expend all efforts” to end the fighting and protect civilians. 

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, he also called on them to “bring an end to the fighting, restore law and order and ensure the protection of civilians, in accordance with the Government’s National Plan for Civilian Protection”. 

Mr. Guterres expressed his condolences to the bereaved families and wished a speedy recovery to the injured. 

The violence occurred about two weeks after the African Union-United Nations hybrid peacekeeping mission in the region (UNAMID) ended its operations at the end of 2020. UNAMID is currently drawing down and the process is expected to complete by the end of June 2021. 

The vast Darfur region, roughly the size of Spain, has been plagued by conflict and inter-communal tensions for years. Millions have been displaced by the violence, including many who fled to neighbouring Chad.

According to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), almost five million people there received  humanitarian assistance between January and September 2020.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), in a press release on Sunday, urged the Transitional Government, the government of West Darfur State, the military and security forces to protect civilians from attacks by "the unruly armed groups which have been freely moving and terrorizing civilians since the collapse of the former regime".

The SPA stressed that the continuation of these attacks would constitute "a real threat to peace and social security as well as the humanitarian situation" in the Darfur region before the  complete exit of UNAMID.

It said such a situation would not give a good account of the Transitional Government's security plan set to replace the peacekeepers.

The statement said that the declaration of state of emergency and curfew across the West Darfur State was not enough unless it was followed by measures of controlling the armed groups.

There should also be enforcement of law and urgent legal procedures to control the proliferation of arms, in addition to preventing the use of weapons of the military and security forces against civilians.

The SPA said such incidents confirm that proliferation of weapons in all parts of Sudan, and in Darfur region in particular, was one of the main reasons for the deterioration of security and continued attacks against civilians.

-0- PANA MA 18Jan2021