Renewed tribal violence near the western Sudanese city of El Geneina over the past week has displaced more than 15,000 people, the United Nations said.
The war-weary Darfur region has seen an increase in violence recently, humanitarian groups say, which analysts link to a peace deal signed in October 2020 that has led to some groups to jostle for power while not adequately addressing security concerns.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, a personal dispute in the village of Adikong between two men from the Masalit tribe and an unspecified Arab nomadic group sparked the conflict.
Armed nomads attacked the local market, set fire to part of the village, and killed nine people including two children, it said.
The fighting, which spilled over into other villages, caused 11,100 people to be displaced within the El Geneina locality, and an estimated 4,500 others to flee across the border to Chad.
A joint security force was dispatched to the area, the UN was Quoted in a statement as saying.
“El Geneina and the surrounding area saw several incidents of violence in 2021, and more than half of residents are in need of humanitarian aid according to UN estimates”.
A separate conflict that remained unresolved centred on the Dafur region in western Sudan. The conflict began in 2003 when rebels launched an insurrection to protest what they contended was the Sudanese government’s disregard for the western region and its non-Arab population.
In response, the government equipped and supported Arab militias which came to be known as Jajaweed (also Jingaweit or Janjawid)to fight against the rebels in Darfur. The militias, however, also terrorized the civilians in the region and prevented international aid organizations from delivering much-needed food and medical supplies.
Despite a 2004 cease-fire and the presence of African Union (AU) troops that followed, by 2007 the conflict and resulting humanitarian crisis had left hundreds of thousands of people dead and more than two million displaced, internally as well as externally, as they were forced to flee from the fighting.
On July 31, 2007, the United Nations Security Council authorized a joint UN-AU peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) to replace the AU mission, although UNAMID troop deployment did not begin until 2008.
In July 2008 an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor alleged that Bashir, as president of Sudan, bore criminal responsibility for the crisis in Darfur. The prosecutor accused Bashir of orchestrating genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in the region and sought a warrant for his arrest; the Sudanese government denied the charges and proclaimed Bashir’s innocence.
On March 4, 2009, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity but not genocide. The warrant marked the first time that the ICC had sought the arrest of a sitting head of state. A year later, in July, another warrant was issued for Bashir on the charge of genocide.
The ICC warrant seemed to have little bearing on Bashir’s popularity in Sudan, and in April 2010 he was reelected president with some 68 percent of the vote in the country’s first multiparty elections in more than 20 years.
Salva Kiir, who had been serving as national first vice president under Bashir and as president of the semi-autonomous government in southern Sudan since the death of John Garang in 2005, received almost 93 percent of the vote to continue serving in that capacity. The election results were clouded by the withdrawal of Bashir’s two main opposition candidates prior to the contest, who alleged that there were already indications of fraudulent practices, and by the declaration by some international observers that the elections fell short of international standards.
Per the terms of the 2005 CPA, southern Sudanese citizens voted January 9–15, 2011, in the eagerly awaited referendum on southern independence. Other than a few isolated incidents of violence, the referendum transpired peacefully, and international observers declared the vote to be credible and largely free and fair.
The other referendum initially scheduled to occur at the same time for the inhabitants of the Abyei region, regarding whether that region would be part of the north or the south in the instance that the latter opted for independence, was postponed indefinitely because of disagreements over voter eligibility in the region.
Preliminary results in the southern independence referendum, released at the end of January, indicated that almost 99 percent of voters opted in favour of seceding from the north; this was confirmed with the announcement of the final results in February.
The country then looked toward the final preparations for the south’s secession, scheduled for July 9, 2011. Preparations for the split did not go smoothly, however.
As the July independence date grew closer, several key issues remained unresolved between the north and the south, such as the sharing of the country’s oil wealth, distribution of the country’s collective debt, and establishment of the final border demarcation.
Related to the unresolved border issue was an alarming situation in the disputed Abyei region. Under the terms of the 2005 CPA, the region was jointly administered by northern and southern Sudanese until its final status could be determined, which, with the indefinite postponement of the Abyei referendum, was still pending.
There had been scattered amounts of low-level violence in Abyei, but tensions reached a new height in May 2011 when Bashir ordered the invasion of the region’s primary town, also named Abyei.
He maintained that the invasion was a justified response to southern provocation, citing an attack by southern fighters on northern forces and their UN peacekeeping troop escorts a few days earlier, but the invasion was widely denounced in international circles and elicited cries of protest from the southern Sudanese government.
Tens of thousands of Abyei residents were displaced by the conflict. Days later, when Bashir proclaimed Abyei to be northern land and refused to withdraw the northern troops, many feared that the heated situation could reignite civil war in the country, but an agreement was reached in June that provided for a new, temporary north-south administration of the region as well as for the withdrawal of both northern and southern forces from the region. Ethiopian peacekeeping troops agreed to form an interim security force for Abyei.