Homes torched in Kerending camp. (Radio Dabanga, Photo Courtesy)

Another Deadly Massacre Unfolded in El Geneina, West Darfur

Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) is deeply saddened and outraged about the horrifying massacre by armed militia in the West Darfur capital of El Geneina (Kerending camp) where more than 80 people are reported to have been killed. Among the dead was Saeed Baraka, 36, a U.S. citizen from Atlanta who was visiting his family in Darfur, according to the Associated Press.

The attack comes about two weeks after UNAMID’s withdrawal and the empty promises by the interim government about protecting the vulnerable. DWAG calls on the government of Sudan to stop its forces from committing such heinous crimes against the helpless displaced camps residents. The government must mobilize an urgent medical response and ensure the provision of logistical support for the doctors responding to the attack. DWAG further calls for a swift investigation of the causes and holding those responsible for the attack accountable.

On Saturday morning Janjaweed militias stormed a camp for internally displaced people killing, burning and looting properties. Radio Dabanga reported about 83 people killed and at least 160 people injured in the violence that unfolded over the weekend. The incident was said to be triggered by an individual crime when a Masalit tribesman stabbed a member of an Arab tribe to death near the Kerending camps, and though the killer was arrested, the relatives of the victim sought revenge.

Additionally, the medical response to the attack is hampered by a large shortage of doctors, nurses, equipment, anesthesia and medicines, Radio Dabanga reports. Blood donors also face troubles reaching the few hospitals in the region due to the curfew imposed by the government in response to the attacks.

While the emergency response attempts to save lives, armed militias continue to spread terror in and around the Kerrending camp and its surrounding areas, where human rights violations, looting and laying siege to camp are problems that persist. Additionally, the delayed response from the commander of the region to the atrocities is deeply disturbing, especially when there were indications that armed militias were waiting for the right conditions to wreak havoc in the city.

This attack in Kerending Camp is not an isolated incident. There has been systemic violence against the genocide victims in Darfur who have been displaced hundreds of times since 2003. Another massacre took place in 2020 where more than 60 people were killed and over a hundred injured even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While negotiating UNAMID withdrawal the interim government of Sudan has argued that they will provide protection to the internally displaced in Darfur — an empty promise that the government in Khartoum has no political will to fulfill.

The suffering of the people of Darfur particularly in the internally displaced camps have gone on for far too long because of the failure of the international community to protect the people or hold those responsible accountable. Now again the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has decided to prematurely withdraw UN forces only to leave these vulnerable people to be terrorized and killed by forces associated with the government in Khartoum.

These attacks are not new and these vulnerable people have been deliberately attacked for years. Now is not a good time for the international community to abandon those who still rely on international aid for their survival. It’s too early and too soon to abandon the people of Darfur without sustainable solutions on the ground. What happened and is happening now is the result of the state’s failure  and the lack of political will at the central level to protect the civilians, disarm militias or hold criminals accountable. To protect civilians there must be collective, international and targeted action across Darfur throughout the interim period. We call on the UNSC, the U.S. government and the interim government of Sudan to fulfill the following demands:

  • UNSC must swiftly send an investigation team to investigate crimes and hold Sudan responsible for the lives lost and its failure to protect them.
  • The government of Sudan must stop its militias from attacking civilians in El Geneina and across Darfur.
  • The government of Sudan must remove its militias out of the cities, around the camps and civilian’s inhabitant areas.
  • UNSC and the U.S. government must press the Sudanese government to disarm and hold its militias accountable.
  • UNSC must revisit its decision and authorize UN protection forces to be in Darfur throughout the interim period.
  • Sudan must allow unhindered humanitarian access and allow aid organizations to safely cater to the civilians impacted by the attack who are in dire need of assistance.
  • The US must not normalize relations with Sudan unless Sudan stops its forces from attacking civilians, holding criminals of past and present crimes accountable.

DWAG urges its supporters to speak up and hold the government of Sudan and the international community accountable for their failure to act to protect civilians in Darfur

DWAG firmly stands in solidarity with the citizens of West Darfur and appeals to humanitarian organizations to provide all kinds of humanitarian support and medical assistance to those affected, especially the families fleeing the turmoil caused by the armed militias in the Kerrending camp and its surrounding region.