Joint UN Press Release – UN agencies in Sudan reach conflict-affected communities in non-government-controlled areas for first time in a decade (13.06.2021)

United Nations humanitarian agencies have not been able to reach or provide life-saving assistance to support people in the five locations since 2011.

KHARTOUM, Sudan, June 13, 2021 – For the first time in ten years, United Nations humanitarian agencies have been able to access conflict-affected communities in the five non-governmental areas controlled by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) El Hilu in South Kordofan and Blue Niles states of Sudan.

A series of humanitarian missions to the five isolated enclaves has concluded, just as renewed peace talks between the Government of Sudan and SPLM-N are ongoing in Juba, South Sudan. These five areas have largely been cut-off from support over the last decade and the missions’ findings indicate people are in dire need of improved food security, education, health, and water and sanitation services.

“This response marks a significant breakthrough in humanitarian access and response to conflict-affected communities previously unreached by UN humanitarian assistance. We commend the local efforts to support essential needs during the years of hardship. The humanitarian community in Sudan is calling for increased access and critically needed assistance to support these marginalized communities,” said Khardiata Lo N’diaye, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General and Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan.

United Nations humanitarian agencies have not been able to reach or provide life-saving assistance to support people in the five locations since 2011, when conflict broke out between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM-N. Gaining humanitarian access to these communities provides a critical opportunity to improve lives and rebuild livelihoods.

“Communities in these areas have been struggling and surviving on little or nothing for a decade. Access for humanitarian agencies so they can increase their assistance to these vulnerable communities is critical. With improved food security and other opportunities, families will be able to reintegrate with the rest of Sudan and start to recover and rebuild,” said Eddie Rowe, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director in Sudan.

WFP delivered 100 metric tons of nutritious biscuits for 25,000 school children in 83 schools on the five missions. This was the first assistance that people in these isolated areas had received from the UN in the last decade due to conflict and access constraints. A lack of food for students is one of the main challenges Page 2 of 3 in maintaining school enrolment in these isolated areas. Providing school meals is among the top priorities for WFP’s response as access continues to open.

“Whilst these missions mark a major development, we need to ensure that humanitarian access to children and communities in need is always granted. No conditions should ever be set on access; humanitarian assistance should be provided at all times and from all places to those that need it. Findings from this mission are bleak. These children have been entirely ‘left behind’. We have to act now to ensure these children have a future. Collectively, efforts must be made to ensure access and sustain and scale up assistance,” said Abdullah Fadil, UNICEF Representative in Sudan.

Expanding humanitarian access to SPLM-N controlled enclaves is crucial to providing urgent assistance to an estimated 800,000 people in these areas, who desperately need relief following years of isolation. Ramping up support will help stabilize communities and pave the path for peacebuilding efforts, while reinforcing the UN’s commitment to assist marginalised populations in Sudan.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) participated in missions over the last six weeks to five isolated areas in SPLM-N El Hilu controlled areas including Zozak and Amora in Blue Nile State and Kau/Nyaro, Rashad/New Tegali, and Western Jebels in South Kordofan State.

Opinion: Hemeti will challenge the Gods

The Commander of Rapid Support Forces (RSF) the former Janjaweed, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemeti” is now challenging the state and the Sovereign Council. As he has not accepted to fully integrate the militia into the army.

RSP is already semi-autonomous, but by the act in government from 2017. The powers of the President can still command it. Therefore, the manner in which the law is created. It is creating a hard way to find ways to measure it. As it was an autonomous unit, but can be commanded by the President. This is maybe why the Sovereign Council and the Transitional Government want it under the same umbrella and not run as a separate outfit anymore. Especially, when the integrity and the power imbalance it might create.

The National Army is about 110,000 soldiers. While the RSF is about 20,000 militia men. Therefore, the size of RSF is substantial. Though, Hemeti is overplaying his hand here. Al-Burhan is the President (Chairman) of the Sovereign Council and Commander of the Armed Forces. By the laws of RSF Act of 2017. This means Al-Burhan can direct the RSF the way he see fit.

That means the RSF have to comply. The RSF Act was created for Al-Bashir’s wishes and whims. However, he is no longer the President and Commander-in-Chief. At this current time Al-Burhan runs as the President with Hamdok as the Prime Minister. Therefore, Hemeti which happens to be the Deputy of Al-Burhan doesn’t have the mandate to rebel against this.

Yes, the law is made in a way, which creates a lot of issues. Certainly, it was wilfully done so. In such a way that Al-Bashir could put all the blame on Hemeti and say he acted on his own merit. Instead of having to take responsibility for the actions made by the RSF in Darfur. Now, the same protocols are stifling the integration and furthering the process of a peaceful transition.

Hemeti doesn’t want to give up now. After years as a General and continued to rise to prominence. He has tried to make himself look more feasible and trade-off as a political broker. Still, everyone knows his past and willingness to dip into the coffers and get dirty. This man is willing to sell arms to Tchad or the Central African Republic. His willing to kill civilians and be a militia leader. So, it is not like his a man of protocol and a man of procedure. The RSF web page proves that as well.

Now, his willing to bet on the prestige and the ambition on his past. That he has the ability to overcome this obstacle and loose some sort of independence from the army. While the law, which he himself referred to recently. Is stating that the President can direct it and appoint it’s leadership. Meaning, if he Hemeti goes hard on this. Al-Burhan can in effect demote him and appoint someone else who is willing to accept the fate of the RSF in the SAF. That is just a mere fact and Hemeti should be aware of that himself.

His 20,000 combating a strong national army is a bloodshed in awaiting. Hemeti already have a war-torn Darfur and is known for his attacks on civilians there. Not like there is much love lost between the general public and the RSF. They still remember how the RSF was used to quell the revolution and civilians demonstrating against Al-Bashir. Therefore, he will not garner their love anytime soon.

This is why Hemeti should accept this plight. Swallow his pride and be happy that his even the Deputy in the Sovereign Council. That even with his horrific and depressing history, which he should have answered for in the court. The lives and the families he has hurt over the years. Still, he has rose to power and sitting at the high table. That man should feel lucky and not take this for granted.

Al-Burhan and the rest of the Sovereign Council is in it’s right to integrate and get the RSF into the SAF. That is just natural and not continue the agony of having it separate. Hemeti should understand that and just move-on. If he does… he will still have the reigns and be considered influential. However, if he gambles this all now.

Both the laws, the people and the Sovereign Council will dismiss him. There will be little to no redemption and what’s worse for him. That if they arrest him or start investigation of all of his acts during the years. The man will not see the light of day again. He will either be brought to court or get jail time. That is something you don’t want when you gotten this far…

However, Hemeti rather risk it, it seems and possibly loose it all. As he challenge the Gods, thinking they will forgive him. What a fool(!). This will only hurt him and he will not see it coming. Peace.

Sudan: West Darfur clashes force nearly 2,000 refugees into Chad (13.04.2021)

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 13, 2021 – Recent intercommunal clashes in El Geneina, in Sudan’s West Darfur State, have forced 1,860 refugees to cross into neighbouring Chad in the past week.

The refugees, mostly women, children and the elderly, have fled homes in villages near the border, in the aftermath of deadly clashes that started on 3 April. The resurging violence has reportedly left 144 people dead and more than 230 injured. In the meantime, humanitarian agencies are trying to establish the exact number of newly displaced people within West Darfur, which is estimated to be in the thousands.

Refugees arriving in Chad speak of houses and properties being destroyed, and of sites hosting displaced people being targeted. Some of the new arrivals had already been displaced by earlier clashes last year and in January this year.

El Geneina is only 20 kilometers away from the Sudan-Chad border. Refugees have crossed near the town of Adré, in Ouaddaï province and are currently being hosted just 200 metres away from the volatile border.

UNHCR teams from our nearby office in Farchana have rushed to receive refugees. Our staff report conditions on the ground being dire with displaced families staying in the open or under the little shade of trees or makeshift shelters, with barely any protection from the elements in an area where temperature can rise to 40 degrees Celsius during the day. Food and water are also urgently needed.

UNHCR, with our government counterpart and humanitarian partners are on the ground and coordinating the humanitarian response. The priority is to relocate the refugees to a safer location where essential assistance and access to health can be provided, and quarantine measures against COVID-19 implemented.

Ouaddai province where the new arrivals are crossing already hosts 145,000 Darfurian refugees and UNHCR expects the influx to continue if security is not quickly restored in Darfur.

Sudan: OHCHR – Press briefing notes on violence in West Darfur (09.04.2021)

We are appalled by the latest resurgence of violence between Masalit and Arab tribes in West Darfur, in Sudan, that left at least 87 people dead, more than 191 injured and forced thousands to flee their homes. We are also disturbed by the slow progress in ensuring accountability for this and previous violence, despite repeated calls by victims and their families.

The latest bout of violence erupted on 3 April in Al Geneina town when unknown assailants shot at a group of men from the Masalit tribe, killing two and injuring one. In response, armed elements from Masalit and Arab tribes mobilized, leading to clashes between them.

By the evening of 5 April, the streets of Al Geneina were strewn with dozens of bodies, including those of women and children. These scenes recalled those seen in West Darfur following previous clashes, in late 2019 and, most recently, in mid-January 2021.

During the violence last weekend, public and private property was destroyed or damaged, including a hospital, and a UN compound. At least one ambulance was attacked and health personnel injured.

Similar to previous situations of violence in Al Geneina, the authorities failed to stop the clashes despite a robust security force presence in the town. We urge the authorities to fully uphold their role to protect the population without discrimination. In this regard, we call on the Government of Sudan to accelerate the implementation of the National Plan for the Protection of Civilians.

All tribes responsible for violence in Darfur must be disarmed and the State must be able to maintain order and ensure the rule of law, including by preventing armed civilians from taking the law into their own hands.

We acknowledge that, after the latest clashes, the authorities have taken steps to contain the situation in the area. We also welcome the Government’s commitment to addressing the root causes of the violence, especially disputes over land, pasture and water resources – disputes that are at the heart of the entrenched tribal divisions. These commitments need to result in concrete actions.

Independent, impartial and thorough investigations into these acts of violence must be initiated without delay. Effective accountability processes must be established to pave the way for genuine reconciliation and lasting peace.

We note that the Sudanese Attorney General has announced that 15 prosecutors have been sent to West Darfur to investigate the recent violence. We also welcome the decision to refer 33 alleged perpetrators for trial over the clashes in January 2021, as well as the establishment of the committee set up to investigate a similar incident in December 2019.

We urge the Government to ensure prompt, transparent and effective follow-up to these investigations. All those responsible for human rights abuses must be held accountable. Grievances from both sides must be tackled after decades-long ethnic disputes stoked by the previous regime.

Our Office in Sudan stands ready to assist the Government of Sudan towards achieving accountably and justice.

Sudan: Declaration of Principles between the Transitional Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (28.03.2021)

Sudan: Council of Ministers – Press Statement (26.03.2021)

Sudan: Conflict – Flash Update #9 West Darfur As of 16 February 2021 (16.02.2021)

Sudan: UN independent experts call for ‘justice, accountability and reparation to victims’ in Sudan (02.02.2021)

An intercommunal violence on 16 and 17 January led to clashes between Arab nomads and the non-Arab ethnic Masalit in West Darfur.

NEW YORK, United States of America, February 2, 2021 – Recent intercommunal violence and deadly attacks in Darfur have prompted two independent UN human rights experts on Monday to urge the Government of Sudan to urgently implement strong measures to ensure the safety of civilians, including the internally displaced.

“We urge the Government of Sudan to step up its efforts to protect civilians, including those internally displaced, prevent further displacements and advance solutions to internal displacement by promptly and fully implementing its National Plan for the Protection of Civilians,” said Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, and Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

On 18 January, clashes between the Rezigat and Falata communities in El Gereida locality, in South Darfur, reportedly left 72 people dead, more than 70 injured and about 100 families displaced.

And intercommunal violence on 16 and 17 January led to clashes between Arab nomads and the non-Arab ethnic Masalit in West Darfur, which reportedly affected the Krinding and Abu Zar camps for internally displaced persons. Some 163 people were reported killed, 217 injured and 50,000 people displaced.

Moreover, civilian property was damaged and looted.

The UN experts upheld that a thorough investigation be conducted and the perpetrators be brought to justice.

Darfur concerns

While welcoming the establishment of a committee to investigate the recent West Darfur attacks, the UN experts encouraged the Government to also investigate the violence in South Darfur.

“Justice, accountability and reparation to victims are essential to address insecurity, prevent further violence and displacement, and support durable solutions for internally displaced persons”, they said.

The experts also expressed grave concern for the internally displaced persons in the Darfur region, particularly the long-term displaced.

“Many have been living in protracted displacement in dire conditions, and the challenges they face to achieve durable solutions, in particular due to insecurity and land disputes, are disturbing”, the Special Rapporteurs spelled out.

The independent experts are currently in contact with the authorities.

Special Rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not paid for their work.

Sudan: WFP’s response to inter-communal violence in Darfur, Sudan (29.01.2021)

This is a summary of what was said by WFP spokesperson Tomson Phiri – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

GENEVA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is ramping up assistance to displaced people following a spate of inter-communal violence in West and South Darfur which has forced over 100,000 people to flee in search of safety.

An estimated 70,000 of the displaced people are gathered in over 70 centres across Geneina city in West Darfur. Additional gathering points have been identified as people continue to arrive where WFP and Sudan Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) joint population assessments are being planned. The total number of displaced people is feared to exceed 100,000.

WFP started distributions of emergency food assistance to people inside Geneina, so far reaching 40,000 people in 30 of the 71 centres. Assistance comprises staples – sorghum, pulses and salt to make meals – as well as high energy biscuits, which provide immediate nutrition for children and adults without the need for water or cooking. Food distributions to the remainder of the affected population are ongoing within the city while food distributions outside Geneina will start once the verification exercise is complete.

WFP is extremely concerned with the continued violence. November to January is when farmers are engaged in the winter season planting and the main season harvesting of millet and sorghum. Even a momentary burst of violent disruption of livelihood activities, can have a long-lasting impact. If a planting or harvesting period is missed, it may not be resumed. If livestock cannot be moved to pasture or water, they may not survive. The biggest loser in all this, are the poor households whose food security situation is further compromised.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Sudan: OHCHR – Press briefing notes on Sudan – Darfur, 22 January 2021 (22.01.2021)

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani\ Location: Geneva\ Date: 22 January 2021

We have received deeply disturbing information about two deadly incidents of inter-communal violence in Darfur over the past week, and we fear that the lack of security and chronic impunity in the region leaves it vulnerable to further serious violence.

Between Saturday and Sunday, 16-17 January, 160 people were reportedly killed and 215 injured in clashes between armed men of the Masalit and Arab communities around Krinding camp for internally displaced people in West Darfur. Following the murder of an Arab tribal leader, allegedly by a Masalit man, armed men from the Arab community opened fire at the mostly Masalit IDPs in the camp and set many shelters on fire. In spite of measures by the Governor of West Darfur to bring the situation under control on Saturday, violent clashes erupted between armed men from both communities on Sunday in the region, which also resulted in mass displacement. A nearby village was also set on fire.

In a separate incident, on Monday 18 January, 72 people were reportedly killed and 73 others were injured in South Darfur’s Gereida locality following clashes between armed men from the Falata tribe and the Reizigat tribe. The incident was triggered by the killing of a 10-year-old boy from the Reizigat tribe on 17 January after his search for his camels caused him to cross into land claimed by the Falata tribe. The following day, Rezigat armed men launched an attack on a Falata village. Both sides exchanged fire, causing deaths, injuries and displacement. We understand that the state security committee has been attempting to contain the situation in South Darfur through the deployment of security forces to the area.

These incidents raise serious concerns about the imminent risk of further violence in Darfur, in an environment where decades-old ethnic and tribal tensions that were further stoked by the previous regime continue to fester. There are severe gaps in protection by State authorities, as well as a lack of accountability for violations. Local health facilities have reported being unable to cope with the high number of casualties.

We call on the Government of Sudan to promptly ensure the full implementation of its National Plan for the protection of civilians, and to restore public order and the rule of law in Darfur. We urge the authorities to prioritize carrying out thorough and effective investigations with a view to promptly ensuring that individual perpetrators are brought to justice — to break the cycle of armed citizens taking the law into their own hands to avenge attacks on members of their communities. Victims and their families have the right to redress.

We urge the judicial authorities to take immediate action on the findings of a previous report into intercommunal violence that occurred between 29-31 December 2019 in El Geneina, West Darfur, as a crucial step in the fight against impunity.

We stand ready to continue engaging constructively with the Government, including through our presence in Sudan, on the many human rights challenges the country continues to face.