The joint United Nations and African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has condemned the violence in Sudan’s North Darfur province, including a deadly attack on a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs).
In a statement on Tuesday, the peacekeeping mission expressed deep concern about the “violent incidents” that erupted in the town of Kutum on July 12 and the attack by unidentified armed men the following day on the Fata Borno IDP camp that left at least nine people dead and 20 wounded.
“It is regrettable that these incidents have taken place while the transitional government of Sudan and the armed movements are close to concluding negotiations expected to bring peace and stability … to the Darfur region and the whole of Sudan,” UNAMID said.
Over the past week, unidentified gunmen have waged attacks in the war-scarred region on protesters staging sit-ins to demand better security and a civilian state government.
State governor positions in Sudan are held by military officers despite the overthrow last year of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir in the face of mass protests.
— Radio Dabanga (@Radiodabanga) July 14, 2020
The Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which spearheaded the demonstrations against al-Bashir, condemned the attack in Fata Borno. It said the attackers burned houses and a market and looted livestock in the area.
UNAMID also said it regretted the physical damage to government buildings and private property “caused by such violent acts”.
In Kutum, authorities in said the violence erupted when a government convoy came under attack after a meeting between security officials and the protesters to discuss their demands.
Mohammed Ibrahim Abdel-Karim, acting governor of North Darfur, said in a statement that security officials, who met with the protesters on Sunday, immediately met some of their demands and pledged to work on the rest.
He said the officials left the area on a plane, but that “lawbreakers” wielding stones and knives attacked government vehicles carrying reporters, guards and other officials, forcing them to shelter in a police station.
Abdel-Karim said the men then attacked the police station, burning it to the ground, along with a dozen vehicles, including the convoy cars.
On Monday, the provincial government in North Darfur declared a state of emergency across the province. It said in a statement that more troops would be deployed to Fata Borno and nearby towns to restore security and stability.
The conflict in Darfur started in 2003 after mostly non-Arab rebels rose up against the central government in the capital, Khartoum.
Government forces and mainly Arab militias, which moved to repress the revolt, have been accused of widespread atrocities. Some 300,000 people were killed in the conflict, according to UN estimates.
There has been no serious fighting for years, but the conflict remains unresolved as Arab armed groups are still present and control land they seized.
Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after the military’s removal of al-Bashir in April 2019.
A civilian opposition coalition agreed to joint governance with the military in a three-year transition towards free elections, but key parts of the deal, such as appointing civilian state governors, have not been implemented.
The transitional government has pledged to end the conflict in Darfur and is holding talks with some of the rebel groups that had fought al-Bashir’s government.