The Sudanese revolution has not changed the situation in Darfur. This region of western Sudan has been plagued by civil war since 2003. Experts say more than 300,000 have died.
Former ousted President Omar al-Bashir, detained in Khartoum since his fall in 2019, is accused of war crimes and genocide by the International Criminal Court. Transitional force is in place, but the region remains very unstable.
One of the biggest divides today in Darfur is the ethnic divide. Since the 1970s, Arab tribes have arrived in this region, especially after repeated droughts. This population movement has resulted in pressure on resources and tribal conflicts. So in 2003, the power of Omar al-Bashir stood precisely on these Arabs to attack the indigenous people of Darfuri. A bloody war ensued, resulting in the president being charged with genocide and war crimes.
Even today, tensions are high, especially between farmers and nomadic Arabs. The former blame the latter for invading their land. Just a few days ago, hundreds of members of the Berti clan demonstrated outside the city of El Fasher. Abdelaziz Shumo Abderahman, one of the protesters, explains that “nomadic Arabs fed their camels on a private farm. The farmer came to get them to travel, and they stabbed him. After the murder, they left their animals and fled. The state is trying so far to take back the criminal. For now we are in negotiations. ”
In addition to this conflict over resources, Darfur continues to experience violence as in the days of the Civil War. Villages are regularly attacked. Residents of many localities are targeted and fleeing their homes. Each time, they accuse Janjaweed, these Arab militias used by Omar al-Bashir to commit genocide. On January 19, the village of Fallujah was attacked. Its inhabitants fled. Hamad Tijane Abdelkader, one of the survivors, says he saw “Janjaweed with vehicles, weapons, camels, horses. They attacked the village, I hid myself in a hole that I dug into the ground. I stayed in it for two days. I counted more than 15 dead. After getting out, around noon. 5, I ran away. There is no peace, the government allows these people to kill from right to left. ”
The peace he is talking about is the one signed in August 2020 with Darfuri rebels. A trompe-l’oeil-fred. The armed movements that signed were not the most powerful and did not really control any territory. Thereafter, the violence continued, especially of the tribe. Many Darfurians therefore feel that nothing has changed for them.
Departure of UNAMID
The security situation is all the more fragile when UNAMID, the United Nations mission in Darfur, ended its mandate in late December. Its 15,000 peacekeepers no longer intervene and travel. They are replaced by Minuats, a UN mission that has no soldiers. For Daher, a resident of El Fasher, this decision is a serious mistake: “It was really the wrong time to remove these peacekeepers. The poor no longer have protection. The displaced cannot return to their homes. We had a genocide in Rwanda and we must have one in Darfur, you will see. The government itself cannot provide security. He has too many internal conflicts. ”
Yet it is the Sudanese who must now replace UNAMID with a national force of 12,000 men consisting of 6,000 former rebels and 6,000 government soldiers. But for now, it only exists on paper. At each incident, the force sends out troops, but they generally remain a few days before leaving. Demobilization of the former armed groups has barely begun, so this force is not ready to emerge.
Then the security crisis is added economic crisis. Like elsewhere in Sudan, Darfur suffers from terrible inflation, which weighs on everyday life. Hussein Ahmad Djibril, a baker from El Fasher, explains that prices have doubled in one year. Inflation is found in all the ingredients. That means we have to sell more. You do not rise for pleasure. There are families of 10 children for whom bread has become inaccessible. They only eat one meal a day. ”
We can see today that despite the end of the dictatorship, the peace signed with the rebels, Darfur is still in the midst of a crisis. A new government has just been appointed, but one wonders what he will be capable of given the scope of the task.