Khartoum, Sudan For nearly two months, Mariam Hussein has been hiding in a university building in Geneina, the capital of Western Darfur, Sudan.
After armed militias attacked and burned the Abu Zal camp on April 4, due to the resurgence of violence between Masalit and members of the Arab community in the area, the mother of eight children and thousands of other The internally displaced persons (IDP) fled there.
“You only need to take your children and the most important documents and run away,” said the 56-year-old man, who has been displaced twice since the beginning of the Darfur war nearly 20 years ago.
Witnesses accused the militia attached to the Rapid Support Force (RSF), a paramilitary unit formed by the remnants of the former “Janjaweed” militia and accused of past atrocities, for attacking a site containing approximately 14,000 people. . According to the United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Agency, this sudden outbreak was caused by a shooting that killed two people from the Masalit community, when armed men were mobilized by both sides.
Hussein told Al Jazeera on the phone: “Due to some people’s problems, the militias first attacked many neighborhoods in Hai Jabar, killing and burning until they entered the Abu Zal camp.” “They took DShK on board. Nine cars [Russian anti-aircraft weapon] Burned our camp, so we ran away,” she said.
“How can we stay and burn in the fire?”
A recent battle killed at least 130 people and prompted the Sudanese government to declare a state of emergency in the area. It occurred in the waves of violence in Geneina and its surrounding areas, as well as in other parts of Darfur and Southern Kordofan, killing hundreds of people. The escalation also forced the United Nations to suspend all humanitarian activities in Geneina, the aid delivery center, a decision that affected more than 700,000 people.
Many government buildings in the city have now been turned into temporary shelters for internally displaced persons fleeing militia attacks on their camps.
According to the United Nations, about 237,000 people were newly displaced in the first four months of this year, almost five times the number in 2020.
This coincides with the withdrawal of the United Nations-African Union Joint Peacekeeping Force (UNAMID) since the beginning of the year, which was established in 2007 to protect civilians and promote humanitarian assistance.
Withdrawal is signing an ambitious Peace agreement In October last year, some rebel groups clashed with the Sudanese Transitional Government in the neighboring country of Juba, the capital of South Sudan. The groups that signed the landmark agreement, mostly from the Zaghawa community in North Darfur, include the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM). Gebril Ibrahim of JEM has become the Minister of Finance of Sudan, and Mini Minawi of SLA-MM has been appointed Governor of Darfur.
But the SLA faction led by Abdelwahid Mohamed al-Nour, backed by the Peir tribe, did not sign the agreement.
At the same time, some signatories have complained about the implementation of the Juba Agreement, which provides for the inclusion of insurgents in the security forces, political representation, and economic and land rights.
“The government is not enthusiastic, unwilling, and not ready to implement security arrangements,” Suriman Sundar, political secretary of the Justice and Equality Movement, said last week.
The Darfur conflict broke out in 2003, when most non-Arab insurgents took up arms against the Arab-dominated central government in the capital Khartoum, accusing it of political and economic marginalization. In response, the longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir armed the RSF to suppress the rebellion. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed in the war and millions were displaced. The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecuted Bashir for war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.
Over the years, fighting has slowed down, but conflicts erupt from time to time. In 2019, after months of protests against Bashir’s rule, Bashir’s army was overthrown, giving many Darfurians hope, but the attacks on civilians continued. At the same time, the former RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemeti, has become the vice chairman of Sudan’s ruling sovereign committee.
“After the fall of Bashir, the local Arab community was encouraged by the rise of Reporters Without Borders at the national level, but they [are] There is also concern that Hemeti’s policy of reconciling with non-Arab communities and insurgents may be counterproductive,” said Jerome Tubaina, a researcher at the International Federation of Human Rights who recently visited Western Darfur.
“On their side, Masalit, the historically dominant community in the state, thinks it’s time to regain the land they lost in the war,” he added.
After Bashir was overthrown, some Masalites who fled to neighboring Chad when the war began to return to the area, but they found their land was occupied by Arabs.
The governor of Western Darfur, Mohamed Abdullah Duma, has repeatedly accused militias from Chad of launching attacks on civilians. At the same time, many Darfurians accused the Sudanese government forces of failing to protect them after UNIMAD withdrew. According to reports, some members of the Masalit community are reforming their own militia organizations.
“There are deaths on both sides. All government forces still cannot stop the violence,” Tubiana said of the recent fighting.
“The only hope is that the new joint force that should be established by the Juba Agreement, this time including the former insurgents, can do better,” he said.
But back in Geneina, the displaced civilians still feel insecure.
“We feel unsafe here,” El-Nour Abdullah said in the city’s Ministry of Agriculture building. The 35-year-old has been taking refuge there with his newlyweds and parents since January after Arab militias burned down the camp for internally displaced persons in Krinding last month.
“Just last night, in a market in downtown Geneina, there were shooting incidents among different armed men; some [people] Then threaten the doctors in the hospital to stop treating other patients and treat their wounded,” Abdullah told Al Jazeera.
“There is no sense of security here,” he said.