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Iran Press TV

Violence in Sudan's Darfur killed 250, displaced 100,000: UN

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 24 January 2021 5:19 PM

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has expressed alarm over tribal violence in Sudan's conflict-ridden Darfur region, saying the conflict has killed at least 250 people and displaced more than 100,000 others.

UNHCR spokesman, Boris Cheshirkov, whose remarks were published Sunday, said that about 3,500 Sudanese refugees, mostly women and children, have fled into neighboring Chad.

"These refugees – the majority of them women and children – have been hosted in four very remote locations that lack basic services or public infrastructure, where they have been sheltering under trees," Cheshirkov said in Geneva on Friday.

"Due to the COVID-19 situation, Chadian local authorities are directing the new arrivals to a transit site, where they will undergo quarantine before being relocated to an existing refugee camp, away from the border," he added.

He also said that the UN agency is rushing supplies to the area to respond to their needs, as well as mobilizing resources as part of an inter-agency response.

Before the latest influx, there were more than 350,000 Sudanese refugees in Chad, according to the agency.

The violence in West Darfur reportedly started as a local dispute on January 15 between the Massalit tribe and Arab nomads in the state capital El Geneina, before quickly morphing into broader fighting involving armed militias in the area.

State Governor Mohamed Abdalla al-Douma said at least 100 people were killed, more than 130 others were injured and up to 50,000 people were forced to flee areas in and around the Kerindig camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Sudanese authorities imposed a state-wide curfew in West Darfur, while the Khartoum government dispatched a "high-profile" delegation to help contain the situation.

Separate clashes on January 18 in South Darfur between members of the Fallata ethnic group and the Arab Rizeigat tribe also claimed the lives of at least 55 people and wounded 37 others.

Sudan's state news agency, SUNA, reported at the time that a heavy troop presence had restored order in the town of Gereida, where the deadly clashes took place.

The latest attacks came just weeks after a long-running peacekeeping mission ended its operation in the region.

On December 31, the hybrid United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) formally ended its operations in the region. It plans a phased withdrawal of its approximately 8,000 armed and civilian personnel within six months.

People in Darfur protested the departure of the UN peacekeepers, citing fears of renewed violence.

The eruption of tribal violence in Darfur has sounded the alarm in Sudan over the fragile situation in the region.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has already expressed concern about the violence in Darfur.

Brokering lasting peace in Darfur and other parts of Sudan is one of the main challenges facing military and civilian authorities sharing power following the overthrow of former president Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

Conflict broke out in Darfur in 2003 after mostly non-Arab rebels rose up against Khartoum. Up to 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced, including more than 180,000 displaced in West Darfur, according to UN estimates.

Back then, the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum responded by recruiting and arming a notorious Arab-dominated militia known as the Janjaweed. The main conflict has subsided over the years, but ethnic and tribal clashes still flare periodically.

Sudan is undergoing a rocky political transition after the ouster of Bashir in April 2019 triggered by mass protests against his rule. Bashir, who is currently in custody in Khartoum, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged genocide and war crimes in Darfur perpetrated over a decade ago.

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