Sudan has declared a state of emergency and imposed a night curfew in the Red Sea sState of Port Sudan after tribal violence that took place on Monday resulted in the killing of at least five children, according to an official government statement cited by the state-run Sudan News Agency (SUNA).
The statement, issued by the state governor’s media office, did not give details on the unrest.
Citing a health official, SUNA reported that the clashes left five dead and 13 others injured.
Located in East Sudan, the Red Sea State has a history of violent clashes between the tribes of Beni Amer and Nuba, despite a peace agreement signed by the two tribes’ Sheikhs in 2019.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed met Lt Gen Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, head of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council, who is on a working visit to the Emirates.
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and his guest discussed relations between the two countries.
Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, also attended the meeting at Al Shati Palace on Sunday.
The leaders exchanged views on regional and international issues, especially developments in the Horn of Africa.
They emphasised there was need to give “priority to the voice of wisdom, dialogue and finding diplomatic solutions to the various issues and challenges facing the region, in a way that contributes to defuse tensions and crises”, state news agency Wam reported.
Sheikh Mohamed repeated the UAE’s support for Sudan’s efforts to promote peace, stability and development, especially during this critical phase of its history. Sudan’s stability, security and safety represent an important pillar in the region’s security, Sheikh Mohamed said.
Lt Gen Al Burhan said Sudan was keen to enhance various aspects of co-operation with the UAE.
He thanked the UAE for its position on preserving Sudan’s stability and security during the challenges it is currently facing. He also praised the country’s humanitarian initiatives and medical supplies it continues to provide to Sudan amid the global fight against Covid-19.
The meeting was attended by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohamed bin Zayed; Khaled Omar Youssef, Sudan’s Minister of Cabinet Affairs; and the accompanying delegation.
RIYADH: Sudan passed the second review of the World Bank program, under the supervision of International Monetary Fund (IMF), in a move toward reducing its external debt, SPA reported.
This paves the way to accept Sudan into the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) that could help to reduce its debt burden and open new credit lines, said Finance Minister Gibril Ibrahim in a statement on Monday. A decision on Sudan’s eligibility for the debt reduction initiative is expected in June. It follows a year-long economic reform program under the supervision of the IMF and a conference in Paris this month to promote investment in the country. Sudan is seeking to reduce foreign debts worth over $60 billion.
Rashida and Hawa sift through heaps of ashes that used to be their homes, looking for lost belongings. Broken pots, scorched bricks, a pair of pink baby’s sandals. Hawa breaks down in tears at the sight of the tiny shoes, which belonged to her niece. The girl is safe with her mother in a nearby town, having fled at the sound of the first shots. But both could have easily been among the more than 100 civilians who were killed here in January by Arab attackers.
The two women had been neighbors in the vast Kirinding camp in West Darfur, which until recently housed 50,000 of the roughly three million Darfuris who have been forced to flee their homes in the last two decades. After an initial wave of killing that crested in 2003, the region that is still synonymous with genocide had grown more peaceful in recent years. But then in December 2019, Arab gunmen attacked Kirinding, slaughtering dozens of civilians and burning many of their homes. The attackers returned this past January, leaving still more bodies and torched buildings in their wake. In total, hundreds of non-Arab Darfuris have been killed and thousands displaced in a surge of violent attacks that recalls the region’s previous era of bloodshed.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In late 2018, protesters across Sudan rose up against President Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year-old Islamist junta, paving the way for Bashir’s ouster by a military council in April 2019. Under international pressure, a joint military-civilian transitional government was established and general elections are now expected in 2024. With Bashir behind bars and awaiting transfer to the International Criminal Court, many expected the violence in Darfur to cease. Instead, it has flared to a level not seen in years. Nearly 250,000 people were displaced between January and April of this year, about five times as many as in all 2020. Arab gunmen in cars and on horses and camels, some of them members of government paramilitary forces, have carried out a series of attacks on villages and displacement camps housing non-Arab Darfuris, uprooting some for a second time.
But the spiraling cycle of violence in western Sudan is not a redux of the earlier Darfur crisis. Rather, it is a byproduct of the political transition currently underway in Khartoum. Bashir’s ouster in 2019 raised expectations for Darfur’s Arab and non-Arab residents alike, both of whom hoped their interests would be better served by the new administration. Few have seen their lot improve much in the last two years, however, and many have prepared themselves for a fresh wave of violence.
A SUDDEN TURN
War first broke out in Darfur in 2003, when rebels from the region’s non-Arab communities took up arms against Bashir’s Islamist government. In addition to sending the army to put down the rebellion, the Sudanese government armed some of the Arab communities in the region, creating the infamous Janjaweed militias that terrorized the non-Arab residents of Darfur. Backed by Sudan’s regular army, including its air force, the Janjaweed killed, raped, and looted their way across the region, prompting the United States to declare the war a genocide and the UN to send peacekeepers.
Among those who suffered most were the Masalit, historically the main tribe in West Darfur and the descendants of a once powerful sultanate that resisted colonization into the 1920s. Like Rashida and Hawa, thousands of Masalit ended up in camps for internally displaced people such as Kirinding, around West Darfur’s capital of El Geneina, or in refugee camps in neighboring Chad. Many stayed there for years, raising families in the camps.
The violence began to subside in West Darfur around 2010, allowing some of the displaced people to trickle home. In many cases, the returnees found that Arab nomads had settled on their ancestral homelands. Some of these nomads had come from Chad and been granted Sudanese citizenship in exchange for joining the Janjaweed militias, which were gradually integrated into more official paramilitary forces, including those known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). In Nyoro, one village south of El Geneina to which many Masalit returned, the Arabs freely acknowledged that the land was not theirs but said its richness attracted them. “One of them who came in 2007 with 25 cows now has more than 3,000,” a Nyoro chief told me recently. The non-Arab returnees settled into a mostly peaceful coexistence with the Arab newcomers but often had to give land to the Arabs in exchange for tacit protection.
By May 2019, Sudan had begun an uncertain political transition at the national level, but West Darfur seemed stable enough that the UN mission in Darfur decided to withdraw its blue helmets from El Geneina. Six months later, in December, Arab militants attacked Kirinding camp for the first time. The uptick in violence did not prevent the UN from continuing its drawdown in the rest of Darfur, officially wrapping up the mission on December 31, 2020, two weeks before the second attack on Kirinding.
Arab militias attacked the village of Nyoro, too, on three separate occasions between 2019 and 2021. In January 2021, the Masalit villagers asked the local RSF unit for protection, even though members of the government-backed paramilitary had been involved in attacks elsewhere in Darfur. According to the village chief, the local RSF commander told them that he had not been ordered to “protect civilians,” but he nonetheless agreed to escort Nyoro’s more than 300 families to the safer town of Misterei. But the RSF did not protect Nyoro after its inhabitants had left. “After three days, we returned and found Nyoro burned and looted. Even chickens had been taken. In Darfur, the government is not protecting civilians,” the chief told me.
In February, I drove to Nyoro with a joint RSF and police escort. On the rough and stony road, we met cars full of displaced people driving in the other direction, toward the relative safety of El Geneina. Nyoro itself had been destroyed, its houses burned and stripped of doors and windows. Camels wandered through the ruins.
Prior to Bashir’s fall, non-Arab Darfuris could only flee attacks by the heavily armed Janjaweed—but this time, the Masalit are fighting back. From Nyoro we drove to Misterei, where many Masalit from Nyoro still live. The earth along the dirt road was blackened, burned not by Janjaweed but by Masalit farmers hoping to keep Arab nomads away. In Misterei itself, there were no Arabs at all. After the first attack on Kirinding camp in December 2019, a traditional war chief in Misterei told me, the Masalit realized the government forces would not protect them and began arming themselves for battle. They collected funds from Masalit refugees and immigrants in North America and Europe and purchased AK-type rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, some of them from the very Arab nomads with whom they are now locked in conflict.
When roughly 500 Arab raiders attacked Misterei in July 2020, the Masalit were ready. Between 60 and 80 Masalit were killed in the skirmish, but they repelled the invaders and killed many of their fighters. Masalit fighters also defended the Kirinding camp the second time it was attacked, in January 2021. The Arabs succeeded in burning the camp to the ground, but not before Masalit fighters had killed an estimated 200 of their men.
What explains the resurgence of violence in Darfur? The withdrawal of UN peacekeepers surely did not help, even though these forces rarely intervened. More destabilizing has been the political transition in Khartoum, which has emboldened Arab as well as non-Arab Darfuris but has so far failed to meet anyone’s heightened expectations.
Many in Darfur participated in the protests that led to Bashir’s removal. Although the uprising is generally understood to have originated in Blue Nile State and then spread to Khartoum, activists in El Geneina claim to have organized the first protest in December 2018. One of the demonstrators, a 17-year-old by the name of al-Zubeir al-Sikeyran, was shot dead by government forces—likely the revolution’s first “martyr.” He was, incidentally, an Arab.
But whatever feelings of unity the uprising had initially inspired proved fleeting, as the protesters grew disillusioned with the pace of change. Non-Arab Darfuris in particular complained that the revolution had been limited to Khartoum and that Darfur seemed to be stuck in the Bashir era. In fact, at least one striking change had occurred: non-Arab Darfuris were able to express their frustration by continuing to organize sit-in protests, acts of civil disobedience that Sudanese forces would have immediately crushed in the past. With more freedom to speak out, non-Arab Darfuris began to agitate not just for democracy but for the right to return to their ancestral homelands and for the eviction of Arab settlers.
Arab communities in Darfur felt threatened by these demands. They also had heightened expectations of their own. One of the military leaders who ousted Bashir, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known by the nickname “Hemeti,” was a little-known junior Janjaweed leader when the war in Darfur began. Ten years later, Bashir chose him to lead the newly formed RSF, which gradually became the dictator’s Praetorian Guard. Bashir apparently thought a self-taught camel trader in his 40s would be more loyal to him than old army generals. He was wrong.
Hemeti’s role in the 2019 military takeover earned him the second most powerful position in Sudan’s transitional government. Darfur’s Arabs felt emboldened, thinking Hemeti would help them consolidate power over the lands and resources they had obtained thanks to the Janjaweed. But Hemeti has tried hard to downplay his wartime past and present himself as a peacemaker, preaching reconciliation between tribes and even spearheading negotiations with a number of largely non-Arab Sudanese rebel groups, which resulted in a peace agreement in August 2020.
Among the peace deal’s provisions was a commitment by the government to oversee the evacuation of lands occupied during the war, enabling the safe return of displaced people such as the Masalit. This alarmed Darfur’s Arab communities, who participated in the attacks on non-Arab camps and villages and, later, organized a “sit-in of the Arab tribes” in El Geneina, demanding that displacement camps around the town be dismantled.
“PEACE IS MEANINGLESS”
Throughout this turmoil, the new transitional government in Khartoum has proved ineffectual. It has yet to implement many of the 2020 peace deal’s provisions or to protect non-Arab Darfuris from the escalating violence. It has also yet to surrender Bashir and two other former senior officials to the International Criminal Court, as stipulated in the peace agreement. Part of the problem is that some of those responsible for past crimes are still in charge. In addition to Hemeti, the country’s top transitional military official, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, fought in Darfur and is alleged to have been involved in attacks against non-Arab communities.
Persistent divisions within the transitional government—between its civilian and military components and between the regular armed forces and the RSF—have further impeded its ability to tamp down the violence. During each wave of attacks in West Darfur, for instance, several days passed before the government deployed forces to halt the killing. Officers in the region have repeatedly said they lacked orders from Khartoum to intervene. In the absence of clear guidance from the transitional government, different government forces allegedly supported different sides—many RSF on the side of the Arabs, and some Masalit members of the police and the army on the side of the displaced non-Arab Darfuris. (Although many non-Arabs have been integrated into the RSF, the force remains dominated by Arab combatants, who are often biased when their own kin are involved in attacks.)
Driving through Darfur, I passed many Arab settlements that had essentially been turned into military garrisons. I also passed many villages that had been burned to the ground in the nearly two decades since the war began in 2003. Among them was a ghost village known to have been the target of a merciless government attack in 2004, in which 300 were killed. Later, I met some of the survivors in a displacement camp in Central Darfur State’s capital of Zalingei. They told me that few dared to leave the camp, but those who ventured out to farm had to share their harvest with the Arabs who displaced them. To complain about past crimes or to demand justice for them, the survivors told me, was to risk being killed. After all, among the ranks of the RSF who patrolled the market of Zalingei were some of their attackers. “Peace is meaningless since the criminals are still here [with] weapons in their hands,” one of the survivors said. “We need them to be disarmed and brought to justice, and our land to be given back”.
JEROME TUBIANA, a researcher and journalist who focuses on Sudan and Chad, recently traveled across Darfur for the U.S. Institute of Peace and the International Federation for Human Rights
Sudan has declared a state of emergency and imposed a night curfew in some parts of the coastal Red Sea state on Monday, following tribal violence that killed at least five people and left 13 injured, state news agency (Suna) reported. However, a statement by the State-Governor’s media office gave no details of the clashes and did not mention casualties. Suna reported that the clashes broke out at some areas in the city of Port Sudan. Red Sea state, in eastern Sudan, has a history of deadly clashes between the Beni Amer and Nuba, even after leaders from the two tribes signed a peace agreement to stem the violence in 2019.
Mini Arko Minawi appointed governor of Darfur region under Juba peace deal
Mohammed Amin |02.05.2021
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on Sunday appointed former rebel leader Mini Arko Minawi as the governor of the western Darfur region, according to a Cabinet statement.
Minawi was picked up as the Darfur governor under the Juba peace agreement, the statement said.
Minawi, the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), said in a tweet after his appointment that he will work with other partners to honestly implement the peace agreement.
In August 2020, the Sudanese government signed a peace agreement in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, with the rebel coalition of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) to end years of conflict in the Darfur region and South Kordofan, and the Blue Nile states.
CAIRO (AP) — Eritrea’s president arrived in Khartoum on Tuesday for talks with Sudanese officials amid tensions over a longtime border dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia.
President Isaias Afwerki landed at Khartoum’s international airport and was received by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of Sudan’s ruling sovereign council.
The two leaders then began closed talks on cooperation and ways to develop ties between the two countries, according to a statement from the Sudanese sovereign council.
The two-day visit comes after Sudan in February accused a third party of siding with Ethiopia in its border dispute with Sudan. It was likely referring to Eritrea, which has deployed troops to the Tigray region to fight alongside Ethiopian federal forces in the conflict there.
Following Sudan’s accusation, Eritrea dispatched its foreign minister to Sudan who assured Khartoum that Eritrea was not part of the dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia.
The decades-long disagreement centers on large swaths of agricultural land Sudan says are within its borders in the al-Fashqa area, which Ethiopian farmers have cultivated it for years. The Tigray conflict in Ethiopia, which has resulted in an influx of refugees into Sudan, has exacerbated the dispute.
The dispute escalated in November after Sudan deployed troops to the territories it says are occupied by Ethiopian farmers and militias.
Sudan and Ethiopia have since held rounds of talks to try and settle the dispute, most recently in Khartoum in December, but have not made progress.
Khartoum has said its forces have reclaimed most of its territory. But it has called on Ethiopia to withdraw troops from at least two points it says are inside Sudan under an agreement that demarcated the borders between the two nations in the early 1900s.
Ethiopia, however, accused Sudan of taking advantage of the deadly conflict in Tigray to enter Ethiopian territory and loot property, kill civilians and displace thousands of people. The Tigray fighting has sent over 70,000 Ethiopia refugees into Sudan.
The Eritrean delegation included Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and Presidential Adviser Yemane Ghebreab, said Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Ghebremeskel.
The visit came as Afwerki faces growing pressure from the international community, including the U.S., to withdrew Eritrean troops from Tigray.