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Darfur War - 2018

The government repeatedly extended its 2016 end to offensive military action in Darfur. Clashes between the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) and government forces resumed, however, in April and continued through July, and there were credible reports that villages in Darfurs Jebel Marra mountain range were targeted for attack during these clashes, resulting in thousands of newly displaced civilians. Nevertheless, the COH did allow for periods of increased stability and an overall improvement in the human rights situation in Darfur and the Two Areas. As part of its UN Security Council-mandated reconfigurations, the African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID) established a Jebel Marra Task Force and a temporary operating base in Golo to monitor the humanitarian and security situation in the area. In Darfur weak rule of law persisted, and banditry, criminality, and intercommunal violence were main causes of insecurity in Darfur.

In Darfur and the Two Areas, paramilitary forces and rebel groups continued to commit killings, rape, and torture of civilians. Local militias maintained substantial influence due to widespread impunity. There were reports of both progovernment and antigovernment militias looting, raping, and killing civilians. Intercommunal violence spawned from land tenure and resource scarcity continued to result in civilian deaths, particularly in East, South, and North Darfur. The government continued its national arms collection campaign, which began in October 2017, mostly in Darfur.

Between January 20th and 22nd, clashes occurred between internally displaced persons (IDPs) and Arab Beni Galba tribesmen in the IDP Hassahissa Camp near Zalingi in Central Darfur. On January 20, tribesmen attacked a group of IDPs protesting inside the camp.the tribesmen set fire to the water tanks in the camp, causing more protests. Seven IDPs were confirmed killed and 86 persons wounded.

Clashes between government forces and SLA/AW began on March 10 in East Jebel Marra, resulting in two dead SAF soldiers and one dead rebel. On March 11, SLA/AW forces reportedly ambushed a government convoy, resulting in three more SAF casualties and two SLA/AW casualties. Clashes continued into May, as the government launched an offensive against SLA/AW in South and Central Darfur. During the period at least two civilians were killed, 12 wounded, several SAF soldiers and rebels dies, and at least 16 villages were attacked. Humanitarian organizations reported widespread population displacements to central Jebel Marra.

From June 13 to 16, government forces attacked SLA/AW positions in the southern Jebel Marra area; 16 soldiers three SLA/AW fighters died. UNAMID received reports of villages being burned and civilian deaths and injuries, but could not verify the extent of the damage or number of civilian casualties, nor who caused the damage.

Government forces attacked the main SLA/AW stronghold of Boulay in northern Jebel Marra on June 28. On July 29 and 30 SLA/AW attacked Golol, which was captured by the government. The next day UNAMID received reports of SAF and the RSF targeting civilians alleged to sympathize with SLA/AW in villages in southern Jebel Marra.

Human rights monitors reported that the governments national arms collection campaign was incomplete and directed at certain groups, while exempting some Arab groups. IDPs in Darfur also reported that they could not return to their original lands despite government claims the situation was secure, because their lands were being occupied by Arab nomads, who were not disarmed and could attack returnees.

Clashes also occurred between IDPs and government security services in Darfur. For example, between May 21 and 23, there were clashes at three camps around Zalingi: Khamsa Dagaig, Ardayba, and Jedda. Several IDPs were reportedly killed.

UN Security Council resolution 2429 (2018) extended the mandate of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) until 30 June 2019 and requested the Secretary General to report every 90 days on its implementation.

The third report for 2018 provided an update on the conflict, the political situation, the operational environment in Darfur and the main challenges encountered in the implementation of the mandate of UNAMID during the period from 11 June until 3 October 2018. The security situation in Darfur remained relatively stable, with the exception of intermittent clashes that continued between Government forces and the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW) mainly in the western and southern Jebel Marra area. While incidents of intercommunal conflict remained low, there was a marginal increase in the number of fatalities from the clashes, as compared with the previous reporting period. Disputes between herders and farmers, in particular internally displaced persons and returnees, over land and resources persisted. The Darfur peace process remained stalled, and the implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur continued to be slow, despite ongoing efforts to revitalize the process.

The fourth report for 2018 provided an update on the conflict, the political situation, the operational environment in Darfur and the main challenges encountered in the implementation of the mandate of UNAMID during the period from 4 October 2018 to 3 January 2019. The security situation in Darfur remained relatively stable, except for intermittent clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) faction in Jebel Marra that resulted in civilian displacement. No major episodes of intercommunal violence were reported. Incidents of crop destruction, which often spark local-level confrontations, were also on the decline.

The reduction in the number of incidents of intercommunal violence corresponds to the overall decrease in counter-insurgency operations and associated militia mobilization, in addition to the concerted efforts of UNAMID, the United Nations country team, national and local authorities and communities to resol ve disputes and pursue peaceful coexistence. Nevertheless, the root causes of intercommunal conflict remain unaddressed: this includes land disputes, which also affect internally displaced persons returning to their places of origin occupied by others. The seasonal cattle migration from North to South Darfur during the harvest season also raises potential for a spike in intercommunal violence in some parts of the region.

The late 2018 reporting period saw some progress in the Darfur peace process. Together with the Sudan Liberation Movement/Transitional Council (SLM/TC), the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi (SLA/MM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM/Gibril), which are non-signatories of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, renewed their unilateral cessation of hostilities on 9 November, until 8 February 2019. On 6 December, SLM/MM and JEM/Gibril signed a pre-negotiation agreement with the Government, supported by UNAMID. Meanwhile, the implementation of the Doha Document itself remained slow and beset with challenges.

SLA/AW continued to suffer from fragmentation over issues pertaining to the peace process and field command. The military pressure from the Government, coupled with the increasing shortage of supplies, appears to have had a debilitating impact on the cohesion of the movement. From 12 to 31 October, disagreements between SLA/AW groups triggered a series of incidents of infighting in Jokosti, Daya and Jebel Gheit in the vicinity of Golo and Dar al-aman near Rockero in Central Darfur. Those internal clashes resulted in the deaths of eight SLA/AW fighters, including the movements political and legal adviser. In addition, there have been reports implicating SLA/AW in criminal activities, including robbery, looting, animal rustling and the ransacking of local clinics, indicating its desperate need for sustenance supplies.

The situation remained tense, as, on 5 November, the Commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Mohamed Hamdan, referred to a possible launch of military operations to dislodge SLA/AW.




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