The United Nations and the African Union have sounded an alarm over worsening violence in Sudan’s western Darfur region, which is forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes and hampering the distribution of aid.
In the last month, a wave of violence in the remote area has affected tens of thousands of people, and disrupted aid delivery in the region, a joint statement issued by the deputy head of the UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID), and Ali Al-Za’tari, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan said.
Many people in Darfur have no choice but to flee their homes in fear
“Since the beginning of 2014, more than 215,000 people in Darfur have been displaced from their homes. Many people in Darfur have no choice but to flee their homes in fear,” the statement said.
Dozens have been killed in Darfur in recent weeks as fighting between rebels and security forces intensified, with critics accusing Khartoum of war crimes and human rights abuses.
The head of UNAMID, Mohamed Ibn Chambas said the on-going attacks on civilian areas and camps linked to government-backed force, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), represented an “ugly blemish on our efforts to dialogue.”
The chief assistant to President Omar al-Bashir dismissed the suggestions as “nonsense” and insisted the RSF was a component of the Sudan Armed Forces and had “chased out” rebels from parts of North Darfur.
The latest accusations against the government of Bashir come as a US activist group released new satellite images purportedly showing devastation in an area of Darfur where Janjaweed fighters were recently present.
The Satellite Sentinel Project, released images from March 21 showing at least 17 bomb craters and 311 burned homes across six villages in the mountainous Jebel Marra area.
“This new incarnation of Janjaweed fighters … supported by the Khartoum government, are now attacking Darfuri civilians and torching homes on a scale not seen since 2003,” said the group’s co-founder, and former US state department official, John Prendergast.
The Janjaweed are a government-backed militia blamed for widespread killings in the Darfur region.
South Sudan analyst Akshaya Kumar said the images “offer independent evidence of the Sudanese army’s war crimes.”
Earlier this month the US accused the Sudanese government of obstructing peacekeepers in Darfur, where it said civilians were being “terrorised, displaced, and killed” despite the presence of one of the world’s biggest peacekeeping missions.
In 2013, at least 460,000 people were displaced as a result of inter-tribal fighting and clashes between the Sudanese army and armed movements according to the United Nations.
Despite 14,500 troops and 4,500 police on the ground, the conflict has killed as many as 300,000 people and displaced 2 million, according to the United Nations.
Bashir has disputed the figures and has stayed in power despite rebellions, US trade sanctions, an economic crisis, an attempted coup and an indictment from the International Criminal Court on charges of masterminding genocide and other war crimes in Darfur.