The recent resumption of violence in Darfur has left thousands displaced, many dead, and seven peacekeepers wounded according to the A.U.-U.N. mission in Darfur, or UNAMID. According to one source, the number of people displaced in the fighting is as high as 14,000.
The recent uptick in clashes in Darfur began early February, when, according to Reuters, infighting in one Darfur rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Army faction headed by Abdel Wahid al-Nur, or SLA-AW, drove 10,000 people from their homes in West Darfur. According to rebel leaders, the fighting broke out between those who want to unify with other Darfuri rebel groups and enter into peace talks with the Sudanese government in Doha, and those who didn’t.
Days later, on February 10, Reuters reported that janjaweed militias raided an internally displaced camp in a region bordering West Darfur, killing two people. One resident of the camp was quoted as saying:
“The Janjaweed came in on horses and camels and were looting and shooting. They burned many huts and looted the people’s belongings.”
The article also quoted an anonymous senior U.N. official who said members of an Arab militia entered the camp shooting.
Most recently, rebel group SLA-AW reported being attacked twice by Sudanese forces. The Justice and Equality Movement, another large rebel force, has also reported being attacked on land and by air by government forces. UNAMID, though, did not specify who was involved in the fighting in its press release yesterday, in which it called for restraint from “all parties.”
On Tuesday, the violence extended to UNAMID. Seven Pakistani peacekeepers were wounded in an ambush in South Darfur.
While a UNAMID spokesperson announced today that two suspects had been apprehended in connection with the Tuesday ambush of peacekeepers, the lack of detail surrounding this recent violence is in large part due to the fact that UNAMID has not been given access to the affected areas, yet another example of the information blackout that the Khartoum regime has imposed on the area. Without a thorough investigation of what is occurring on the ground and who is behind it, these clashes will not only contribute to Darfuris’ sense of insecurity and injustice, but further jeopardize the fragile peace talks in Doha.
Photo: SLA rebels in South Darfur (IRIN)