18,000 newly displaced arrive at South Darfur camps; El Salam camp surrounded by militia forces

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About 18,000 villagers from the area southeast of Nyala have arrived at El Salam and Kalma in South Darfur on Friday and Saturday. They fled wide-scale attacks by Sudanese militia forces on more than 35 villages on Thursday and Friday. Many others are still trapped in the desert, and besieged by militiamen. El Salam camp is surrounded by Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and other militia troops in armed vehicles and tanks. Men under 35 are captured when they leave the camp.

About 11,000 newly displaced arrived on Friday at El Salam camp for the displaced in Bielel locality, camp sheikh Mahjoub Adam Tabaldiya told Radio Dabanga. “They were exhausted and in shock when they arrived, after having to flee the Janjaweed attacks. They lost their homes, livestock, and relatives, and are now living in the open, without shelter, water, food, or medicines.”

“The camp was already short of drinking water and food,” Tabaldiya explained. “We do not dare to leave the camp anymore to fetch water, because El Salam camp is entirely surrounded by RSF militia troops and other government Janjaweed. About 115 armed vehicles and 16 tanks encircle the camp at the southern and northern side. There are three military camps for the militias on the Nyala-El Salam camp road. Passers-by are subjected to inspection and their property is taken. All men under the age of 35 are captured.”

Tabaldiya appealed to the UN Security Council to intervene “as soon as possible” and accelerate the provision of relief to the newly displaced.

Fleeing villagers attacked

“About 1,700 families are currently besieged by Janjaweed militias in the areas of Tabaldiyat and Jabarona,” Tabaldiya added. “They fled from the villages of Ghireiga, Aradeibat El Omda, and Um Gounja. Those families are having trouble getting potable water and food, and are being subjected to assaults, beating, and torture. We urgently request Unamid to intervene and protect these trapped villagers.”

The RSF also attacked citizens who fled to the area of Tani Effendo on Saturday evening. A villager called Ibrahim Alyan was killed. The villagers, after being robbed of the belongings they had taken with them on their flight, had to flee again, this time seeking refuge in the valleys, forests, and the nearby mountains.

Kalma camp

Hussein Abu Sharati, the spokesman for the Association of the Displaced and Refugees in Darfur told Radio Dabanga that the number of newly displaced, “most of them women and children”, seeking refuge at the Kalma camp for the displaced in Nyala locality, increased from 5,000 to 7,000, with the arrival of about 2,000 villagers on Saturday.

“They are living in the open, without water, food, or shelter. Humanitarian organisations working in the camp have promised to provide the newcomers with aid, without doing that so far,” Abu Sharati noted. “A humanitarian catastrophe might occur if relief organisations do not do not intervene as soon as possible.”

Abu Sharati said that the first group of escapees who arrived at Kalma camp told him that the fate of people who fled from the villages of Ghibeish, Hillat Arbab, Hai Madrasa, Um Tineina, Hillat Nar Giddam, Ladoub, and Bajura, is still unclear. “They must be stranded in the desert and the valleys.”

“We have asked Unamid to rescue those people, but Unamid claimed that they do not have enough manpower to confront this huge number of militia forces deployed in the region.”

The spokesman reiterated his appeal to Unamid to rescue them.

'Dry season campaign'

According to sources, the attacks on more than 35 villages southeast of Nyala on Thursday and Friday were carried out by RSF militias. They were originally recruited among young men in Darfur, and trained in military camps near Khartoum as paramilitary forces, in order to fight the rebels, alongside the Sudanese army, in South Kordofan. Large numbers of these militiamen were stationed in North Kordofan. After fierce protests of the population against their ongoing assaults, they were evicted from North Kordofan mid February, and left for South and North Darfur.

In November last year, Sudanese officials announced “a dry season campaign for the final elimination of all armed movements”.