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Darfur War - 2008

Conflict in Darfur continued in 2008 despite the 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) between the government and Minni Minawi's faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A). Civilians in Darfur continued to suffer from the effects of genocide. Government forces bombed villages, killed civilians including internally displaced persons (IDPs), and collaborated with janjaweed militias and tribal factions to raze villages and perpetrate violence against women. The government supported Chadian rebel groups. During January and February, violence in West Darfur displaced tens of thousands of persons; approximately 12,000 persons were displaced to Chad. Darfur rebel groups continued to commit serious abuses.

On May 10, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), a Darfuri rebel movement, mounted an attack on Omdurman, near the capital. Intertribal conflict also killed civilians. According to the UN, nearly 2.7 million civilians have been internally displaced, and approximately 250,000 refugees have fled to neighboring Chad since the conflict in Darfur began in 2003. During the year approximately 315,000 civilians were displaced within Darfur and to Chad. Estimates on the number of deaths vary.

While civilian authorities in the north generally maintained effective control of the security forces and government-aligned militia outside of Darfur, there were frequent instances in which elements of the security forces and government-aligned militia acted independently in Darfur. In the south, civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of security forces, but there were frequent instances in which elements of the security forces acted independently.

In Darfur fighting involving government, government-aligned militias, rebel groups, and ethnic groups continued during the year, and insecurity increased. The government and government-aligned militias continued to attack villages; aerial bombardment of villages by the government continued. Humanitarian access was restricted by the government, and rebels attacked and abducted humanitarian workers. On May 10, JEM rebels attacked Omdurman, near Khartoum. On November 12, President Bashir announced a cease-fire in Darfur; however, government and rebel attacks continued. Intertribal violence also continued.

A UN Panel of Experts report found that Chadian armed groups operate openly in Darfur, and are supplied and supported by Sudanese authorities. The panel noted that the NISS reportedly provides vehicles, weapons, and fuel to Chadian rebels and that Chadian rebels receive training in Darfur, including in SAF-controlled areas. Several Chadian rebel groups were observed operating openly in West Darfur. The panel frequently saw vehicles of the Chadian rebel group Union of Forces for Democracy and Development entering and leaving government installations.

Attacks and other acts of violence by all parties to the conflict resulted in widespread civilian deaths and injuries, displacement, and property destruction. The use of rape as a weapon of war and recruitment of child soldiers continued to be widespread.

Government forces and government-aligned militias engaged in the deliberate killing of civilians, including continued aerial bombardment of civilian targets, such as homes, schools, and markets. According to several UN reports, the government painted white the aircraft used to conduct bombing raids and transport arms to Darfur, the same color as UN aircraft, in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1591. The aerial bombardment of villages was often followed by ground attacks by janjaweed and SAF vehicles.

The SAF bombed rebel-held villages in West Darfur, displacing tens of thousands of civilians and killing many others. For example, on January 7, 12, and 24, the SAF and supporting militias attacked and burned Seraf Jidad village, killing 26 civilians. On February 8, the SAF bombed the towns of Abu Suruj, Silea, and Sirba--SAF and militia ground attacks followed; at least 115 persons were killed. In Silea attackers also killed two NGO workers. A UN report noted that the SAF and armed militias committed "violations of international humanitarian and human rights law against the civilian populations of Seraf Jidad, Sirba, Silea, and Abu Suruj." In February the SAF also conducted several aerial bombings of JEM positions in and around Jebel Moon, displacing thousands, including some to Chad, and killing at least 20 civilians.

During the year aerial bombardments of villages in North Darfur killed civilians. For example, government bombing of Madu and Mou on March 29, and of Shegeg Karo on May 4, killed civilians. On September 3, SAF aircraft bombed the villages of Birmaza and Diza; the bombings and follow-up ground attacks killed at least 20 civilians.

The government attacked IDPs, killing and injuring many. On August 25, at Kalma IDP Camp, South Darfur, the CRP killed 33 IDPs and injured 108 IDPs when they opened fire on a group of IDPs assembled to prevent a search of the camp. On October 9, government forces attacked Nertiti IDP Camp, injuring civilians.

There was no evidence that the government prosecuted or otherwise penalized attacking militias. Government forces provided support, weapons, and ammunition to government-aligned militias.

Government security forces frequently fired on uniformed rebels in civilian areas, including those of DPA signatories. During a two-week period in May, 14 fighters with SLA/Minni Minawi were killed in North Darfur, including seven at a police checkpoint near the village of Dar Al Salaam.

Conflicts between different government security forces resulted in civilian casualties. On April 9, janjaweed working in the BIF rode into the El Fasher market on horseback to protest unpaid salaries, and killed one civilian in the ensuing gun battle with local police. In July fighting between BIF and CRP forces in South Darfur killed one civilian. On August 28, fighting between the CRP and BIF in the South Darfur town of Mershing killed one civilian and wounded eight.

Conflicts among different rebel groups in Darfur resulted in civilian casualties throughout the year. On May 21, in Kafoud, North Darfur, fighting between SLA/Minni Minawi and SLA/Free Will killed 13 civilians and injured eight.

There were developments in the September 2007 case of several hundred unidentified rebels who attacked an African Union Mission in Sudan camp in Haskanita, South Darfur, killing 10 peacekeepers and wounding many more. On November 20, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor requested an arrest warrant for three rebel commanders for war crimes pertaining to this attack; the names of the rebel commanders were not released by year's end. On December 9, the ICC pretrial chamber requested that the prosecutor first submit additional information.

Unknown assailants killed 12 UNAMID peacekeeping troops during the year. For example, on July 8, hundreds of well-armed fighters ambushed a UNAMID convoy east of Shagil Tobaya in an attack lasting several hours; seven peacekeepers and police officers were killed and 22 wounded. By year's end no suspects had been arrested and no specific rebel groups had been formally accused of attacking the convoy.




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