UN 'appalled' by deadly Darfur clashes

AFP , Saturday 10 Apr 2021

The UN Human Rights Office called for independent investigations, adding that those responsible for abuses should be held accountable

Darfur, Sudan
Smoke rises from Abu Zar camp for displaced persons in West Darfur, Sudan, on Tuesday, April 6, 2021. AP

The United Nations said on Friday it was "appalled" by the resurgence of violence in Sudan's West Darfur region, saying all tribes responsible for the bloodshed must be disarmed.

The UN Human Rights Office called for independent investigations, adding that those responsible for abuses should be held accountable.

"We are appalled by the latest resurgence of violence between Massalit and Arab tribes in West Darfur in Sudan that left at least 87 people dead, more than 191 injured and forced thousands to flee their homes," spokeswoman Marta Hurtado told reporters in Geneva.

"We are also disturbed by the slow progress in ensuring accountability for this and previous violence, despite repeated calls by victims and their families."

The death toll is likely to be significantly higher.

On Thursday, Mohamed Abdallah Douma, governor of the region bordering Chad, told a news conference in Khartoum: "According to medical reports, the number of dead is now 132."

The Massalit are mainly farmers, while the Arab tribes are mainly herders, said Hurtado, with the violence and divisions rooted in disputes over land, pasture and water resources.

She said the latest bout of violence erupted on April 3 in the West Darfur state capital El Geneina when assailants shot dead two Massalit men. In response, armed elements from both sides mobilised.

By the evening of April 5, "the streets of El Geneina were strewn with dozens of bodies, including those of women and children", Hurtado said.

"The authorities failed to stop the clashes, despite a robust security force presence in the town.

"All tribes responsible for violence in Darfur must be disarmed and the state must be able to maintain order and ensure the rule of law."

The UN Human Rights Office called for independent, impartial and thorough investigations without delay, "to pave the way for genuine reconciliation and lasting peace".

"We urge the government to ensure prompt, transparent and effective follow-up to these investigations. All those responsible for human rights abuses must be held accountable," said Hurtado.

"Grievances from both sides must be tackled after decades-long ethnic disputes stoked by the previous regime."

The vast Darfur region was previously ravaged by a civil war that erupted in 2003, leaving around 300,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced, according to the UN.

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