Darfur War - 2013
In Darfur fighting involving government forces, rebels, and ethnic militias continued in 2013. These groups injured and killed other combatants and civilians, raped and displaced civilians, and exploited child soldiers.
Clashes between the SAF-associated militias and Darfur rebel movements, notably the Sudan Liberation Army Minni Minnawi faction (SLA/MM), Sudan Liberation Army Abdul Wahid faction (SLA/AW), and the Justice and Equality Movement for Sudan, resulted in significant deaths on both sides. An estimated 4,282 persons in Darfur were killed during the year, an increase from 1,637 persons in 2012.
Since January 2013, an upsurge in fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and armed opposition groups as well as inter-communal clashes resulted in large-scale population displacement in Darfur. Khartoum’s continued policies of bombing civilians, brutal human rights abuses and restricting access for humanitarian assistance were abhorrent and unacceptable—and are further exacerbating an already deteriorating humanitarian situation.
There was continued sponsorship of proxy violence by the central government and an increasingly loss of control after decades of arming militias that had now proliferated. A spreading lawlessness was resulting in heightened violence among heavily armed Arab groups. Fighting among these groups, Darfur rebel groups and the Sudanese Armed Forces has triggered massive displacement throughout Darfur. These factors, combined with the dramatic increase in insecurity caused by general banditry and restrictions imposed by the GoS on humanitarian organizations further reduces critical access to populations in need.
According to the UN, more than 300,000 people had been displaced by conflict across four of Darfur’s five states—both internally and as refugees—this year alone. This number exceeds displacement totals over the last two years combined. Five times as many people were displaced in Darfur during the first few months of 2013 than during the entirety of 2012.
Violence overall had ebbed since the massacres reported in the early days of the uprising. But the clashes in early 2013 were some of the worst in the area for months. A surge in violence in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region has killed more than 100 people and forced 100,000 to flee, the United Nations said on 16 January 2013, sharply increasing its estimates after weeks of clashes. Fighters caught up in a dispute over control of a gold mine had set fire to around three dozen villages in the north of the region.
Security in the Darfur region deteriorated during the year due to the rise in intertribal conflict, as well as continued clashes between the government and rebel factions, and attacks by progovernment militias on unarmed civilians in South, North, and East Darfur states. UNAMID estimated intertribal conflicts caused 1,274 deaths in Darfur from January to October. In January and February, two Arab tribes, the Rizeigat and Beni Hussein, clashed over gold mines in Jebel Amir, North Darfur, which resulted in an estimated 200 deaths, more than 100,000 displaced, and 25 villages burnt.
Reports claimed tribal combatants affiliated with government security forces, including the Border Guards and Central Reserve Police, supported their tribes in intertribal conflicts, further increasing the number of deaths. Sources documented attacks by progovernment militia on civilians in areas controlled by both rebels and the government in east Jebel Marra, Giraida in South Darfur, Labado, Muhajeria, Donki Direisa, and Abga Rajil. Approximately 460,000 sought refuge in IDP and refugee camps because of fighting between government and insurgent forces. An estimated two million civilians remained internally displaced in Darfur, and approximately 200,000 refugees from Darfur remained in Chad.
Armed militia attacks against UNAMID increased during the year. UNAMID vehicles were carjacked, and militia groups abducted UNAMID staff for ransom. By year’s end 16 peacekeepers had been killed. On July 14, armed militias attacked a UNAMID patrol between Khor Apache and Manwashei in South Darfur. The attackers killed seven UNAMID peacekeepers from Tanzania and injured 17 others. On December 29, unknown armed men killed two peacekeepers, one from Jordan and another from Senegal. The government failed to prosecute any suspects in attacks against UNAMID peacekeepers. Government security forces, including the NISS and SAF Military Intelligence, regularly denied UNAMID access to their areas of control.
Government forces and their allied militias clashed with SLA/MM after SLA/MM captured Muhajeria and Labado in April. The attacks by progovernment militias forced the population of both locations to IDP camps, leaving behind their property, which the militias confiscated. An estimated 40,000 individuals from Labrado and Muhajeria entered IDP camps in Kalma, El Salm, and Al-Neem. The Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) denied access to international humanitarian organizations seeking to conduct a rapid assessment of IDP needs.
Fighting between government forces, irregular militia forces aligned with the government, and rebel groups continued to affect the area of Jebel Marra. Intercommunal violence continued, notably in North and South Darfur. Conflicts in IDP camps also resulted in deaths. Reports of rape as well as recruitment of child soldiers continued.
Government forces provided support, including weapons and ammunition, to government-aligned militias, and the government seldom took action against soldiers or militia members who attacked civilians. Rebel forces received financial support from foreign sources.
Fighting, insecurity, bureaucratic obstacles, and government and rebel restrictions reduced the ability of peacekeepers and humanitarian workers to access conflict-affected areas. Armed persons attacked, killed, injured, and kidnapped peacekeepers and aid workers. Humanitarian organizations often were not able to deliver humanitarian assistance in conflict areas, particularly in Jebel Marra, South Darfur.
The government increased obstacles for UN and humanitarian staff members and reduced their access to most areas of Darfur. Lack of access and fear of government retribution reduced reporting on human rights violations, especially sexual and gender-based violence, and on humanitarian situations.
The government took few actions to implement any meaningful provisions of the chapter on justice and reconciliation in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD). During the year, however, cases filed by the special prosecutor reached the sentencing phase. On March 28, seven JEM members were sentenced to death in El Fasher for their involvement in the attack on the village of Khor Bascaweet in 2010, which resulted in the deaths of 53 CRP officers. While there was little evidence that the Special Court was operating or that the special prosecutor was filing cases, sources reported the government requested the appointment of one African Union (AU) and one UN observer for the Special Court in accordance with the DDPD. At year’s end the AU and UN had yet to name observers for the Special Court.
Humanitarian organizations continued to face challenges in accessing populations in Darfur. NGOs were unable to access government and rebel-held territories. Relief agencies faced increasing obstruction by the government, including new arbitrary rules and regulations that undermined the delivery of relief assistance. NGOs reported they had to register for permits twice, once in Khartoum and also in the areas where they worked.
UN agencies also experienced increased constraints regarding access. Police and government security forces frequently declined to provide escorts for UN agencies to areas affected by fighting, and at other times cited continued instability and restricted the movement of UN-sponsored fuel, food, and nonfood supplies to areas outside of major population centers. The UNHCR issued a public appeal to the government on August 6 requesting the renewal of work permits for its international staff working in Darfur.
Policy discrepancies between Darfur state-level and HAC officials in Khartoum adversely affected humanitarian operations. The HAC continued to require NGOs to refrain from interviewing or selecting staff unless they used a five-person government selection panel with HAC officials present, significantly delaying the hiring of new staff in Darfur. The HAC also continued to impose additional requirements on humanitarian organizations on an ad hoc basis, often at the state level.
Attacks on humanitarian and UNAMID convoys increased during the year. Bandits obstructed humanitarian assistance, regularly attacked the compounds of humanitarian organizations, and seized humanitarian aid and other assets, including vehicles. Instability forced many international aid organizations to reduce their operations in Darfur.
On April 27, 2013 rebels attacked a city in the neighboring state of North Kordofan, bringing their fight closer to the capital. A spokesman for the Justice and Equality Movement, or JEM, said the attack on Um Rawaba was part of the group's plan to overthrow the Sudanese government. Um Rawaba was North Kordofan's second-largest city. The state has largely been free from the rebel activity taking place in Darfur to its west and South Kordofan to the south. JEM was part of an alliance with rebels from the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states bordering South Sudan. It was one of two main rebel groups that launched an uprising against the government of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in 2003.
On 31 May 2013, the U.S. Government declared a disaster in Darfur, underscoring the increased emergency needs. Through a Rapid Response Fund, Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance responded by providing 3,000 emergency shelters for 21,000 new internally displaced persons (IDPs) in El Neem camp in El Daein Locality, East Darfur. Spikes in displacement mean the populations of many IDP camps swelled, some by reportedly as much as 50 percent.
The GoS continued to impede access for humanitarian assistance. In March 2013, the GoS issued a new Directive on Humanitarian Assistance that contains new limitations and rules on the issuance of travel permits, which restrict the ability of international humanitarian staff to access many conflict-affected areas. Moreover, organizations continue to experience hurdles on the ground where one branch of the government may disallow prior approval from another office. This translates into sustained difficulties and challenges to reach all those who desperately need help.
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