Renewed tribal conflict in El Geneina, West Darfur.

The Sudanese Human Rights Group (Huqouq) monitored the events in the city of El Geneina between each of the tribal components (Arabs and Masalit). The reasons for the reemergence of conflict are due to the killing of two members of the Masalit tribe and the wounding of one whom are:

  1. Arbab Rola
  2. Saber Ishaq
  3. Abdul Hafeez Yahya Ismail (Injured)

On Saturday, 3/4/2021 in Block (3) in the Al-Jabal neighborhood, our source stated that the three victims had car trouble outside the city of El Geneina from the southern side, they brought a mechanic who could not repair it on site, forcing them to tow their car with the mechanic’s car into El Geneina. As they were crossing the city they were shot at by someone they did not recognize. This coincided with the passage of a military unit belonging to the Sudanese Coalition Forces led by Khamis Abkar, which tried along with the citizens unsuccessfully to trace the killer. The source also stated that the police forces did not intervene to inspect the site of the crime. The injured civilian was rushed to El Geneina Hospital and the two deceased were taken to El Geneina morgue by the civilians.

Following the incident part of the civil administrations of the two components met and reached the conclusion that the perpetrator is to be extradited within (48) hours in the presence of the police, who also pledged to work on arresting the perpetrator during the mentioned period. This proposal was rejected by the victims’ families who demanded that the perpetrator was extradited within a period not exceeding (24) hours, which was agreed on. It is worth noting that the city of El Geneina is witnessing a state of tribal tension and severe hatred following the signing of reconciliation between the two components in the presence of a member of the Sovereignty Council / Muhammad al-Faki and the Commander of the Second Rapid Support Forces, Abdul Rahim Dagalo. That was the sixth reconciliation among the components since 2015. The city is also witnessing widespread arming between the two components and an increase in hate speech, as a large part of El Geneina is divided geographically according to tribal affiliation, especially the Al-Jabal neighborhood, where blocks (2-5-7-15) belong to the Masalit tribe and blocks (1- 3 -4 -6-8) belong to the Arab component.

On Sunday 4/4/2021, a funeral procession took place at El Geneina cemetery led by the victims’ families headed to the government secretariat near the cemeteries. The procession passed by the buildings of the security forces, in which the Rapid Support Forces were stationed, where the forces fired heavily at the procession resulting in the injuries of 4 children who are: 

  1. Saif Al-Din Khamis, 17, was hit in the back
  2. Muhammad Yahya Abakar Ishaq, 13, was hit in the arm
  3. Sabri Jumaa Abdullah Hussein, 9, a broken leg
  4. Fayza Ishaq, 16, a broken leg, and the killing of Adam Ibrahim Nana

Another source revealed to Huqouq on Sunday morning that observations from the city report upcoming violence following the incident that occurred on Saturday night and the increasing tension and the state of security fragility in the city, where the number of the Rapid Support Forces’ stations was reduced from three vehicles to one vehicle three days before the outbreak of conflict. The police and army forces also do not have the necessary resources to stop any conflict that occurs, and El Geneina market did not open its doors and the city was almost free of pedestrian traffic.

At twelve in the afternoon of the same day, the sound of intense gunfire was heard in the Al Jamarik neighborhood from militias called the Colombian belonging to the Masalit component, and in the Al-Jabal and Al-Suq neighborhoods from armed militias affiliated with the Arab component. According to sources the shooting continued until six in the evening, leaving more than (18) killed and (54) wounded based on a statement by the West Darfur Doctors Committee. The government forces did not intervene at all during the period of gunfire, and were based only in front of government buildings and banks.

At exactly 4:30 a.m. forces affiliated with the armed forces intervened and fired heavily in the Al-Jabal neighborhood, which did not result in any casualties. The conflict renewed on Monday, 4/4/2021 at six in the morning, and chaos spread throughout the city of El Geneina until eight in the evening.

It should be noted that the governor of West Darfur state, Muhammad Abdullah Al-Duma, is not present in the state, and the deputy governor met with the state’s security committee in the presence of the commander of the armed forces and the chief of police in the state at the police headquarters. The Armed Forces Commander was absent from the first meeting of the Security Committee and that the armed forces, as it is rumored, do not take their orders from the head of the state security committee, the governor, but rather from the central leaders in Khartoum, which delays their intervention.

Huqouq believes that the growing violence in West Darfur State, the city of El Geneina, is due to the perpetrators escaping accountability noting that the city contains only two police departments and one prosecution office relative to the city’s large size, and that the investigation committee set up by the Attorney General for recent events has not made any statement since its formation. The investigations did not result in the arrest of criminals on both sides in the last confrontations in the conflict that the state witnessed in the events of the Krandaq camp and the second events (16/17) January 2021, and after that the city witnessed an arming race between the two components. The statements made by the Minister of Finance, Gibril Ibrahim on the issue of land have increased the current state of tension. Therefore, we see the need to take into account the sensitivity in the speech of government officials in light of the lack of formation of the Land Commission and the Darfur Land Court, and that the renewed conflict is mainly due to land ownership. We also point out that tribal reconciliations does not constitute in anyway a way to solve the crisis and that the process of disarming the citizens can make a difference in resolving the crisis and ensure that it will not develop in the near future and the deployment of more security forces in the city because all indicators point to the development of events and the recent events could be considered a state of war due to the use of heavy weapons by the two components. An example of this is the RPG shells that fell in the sheltering center for the displaced, some government institutions, and homes. We also see that the state must create mechanisms and means of accountability for the instigators of hate speech that is widespread on social media.

The Sudanese Rights Group (Huqouq) holds the State Security Committee and the Transitional Government fully responsible for all crimes and the state of security chaos that resulted in the death of the yet uncounted number of civilians as a result of the continuous gunfire.

Huqouq recommends the following:

  • The Transitional Government deploys security forces throughout the city to play its role in protecting civilians and abide by neutrality and impartiality with any of the components to the conflict.
  • The Transitional Government conducts an urgent investigation and hold perpetrators accountable.
  • The Transitional Government ensures the safety and protection of citizens.
  • The Transitional Government needs to disarm the various militias.
  • The Transitional Government needs to respect the constitutional rights of citizens.
  • The Transitional Government needs to expedite the formation of the Land Commission and the Darfur Land Court.
  • Huqouq also calls on international and local organizations working in the field of humanitarian services to provide the necessary and rapid support.
  • Deploying peacekeepers as stipulated in the Juba Peace Agreement, after the exit of UNAMID.