Yesterday Radio Dabanga reported that more than 20 people died and dozens more were injured in the wake of tribal clashes in the Sirba locality of West Darfur. Fighting broke out on July 1 and has lasted for at least four days;news of death and violence continues to come in. The armed assailants have burned and destroyed more than five villages including Kafani, Karkar, Krekar, and Ammar Jadeed and displaced many people to the Azeri region. There has been no indication of local police or military intervening to protect civilians or to stop the violence — a dereliction of duty that Darfur Women Action Group condemns.

This report comes on the heels of a disputed Displacement Tracking Matrix Emergency Event Tracking update from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) from June 27 reporting that nearly 44,500 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in and around El Geneina returned to their location of origin in the past month. The update credits a more stable security situation for the return of the majority of returned IDPs. These numbers were gathered by a joint rapid verification exercise conducted by the IOM and the government-run Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) from May 27 to June 12. The Association of Displaced Persons and Refugees from Dar Masalit has expressed skepticism of the statistical criteria used, given that their independent committee did not find evidence of the reportedly 15,000 returned IDPs.

The death toll and the displacement from violent  clashes over the weekend in Sirba  reinforces the call of the association for a revaluation of IOM’s IDP estimates. The security of the people of West Darfur remains in a dire state. While the mobility tracking method used by IOM to arrive at this number can be used  to provide estimates of displacement movements on a more frequent basis however it shouldn’t be used in measuring IDPs return as  the UNHCR has advised this methodology shouldn’t be used for accuracy or verification purposes. The alleged underestimation of IDP numbers poses a troubling opportunity for the interim government to justify misleading interpretations of the security situation and general stability of affected West Darfur communities. Disputed numbers without verification by bodies independent of the interim government must not be readily accepted by the international community.

DWAG stands in Solidarity with the people of West Darfur and urgently  calls on the interim government to immediately intervene to stop fighting and disarm militias in the Sirba locality and across Sudan. The UNAMID withdrawal last year came at the conclusion that local authorities could protect civilians against intercommunal violence and the genocidal attacks. However the surge of violent attacks in West Darfur since January has proven the opposite. The resounding indifference of local authorities to the slaughter of the people of Sirba has been the latest tragedy in a pattern of neglect. The interim government must not abandon their promise to protect the civilians of Darfur if peace is ever to be achieved.

DWAG is deeply troubled by the lack of attention by international and domestic media sources on the people of West Darfur. We strongly caution the international community against accepting the false  assurances of the interim government at face value. Increasing international acceptance of the interim government diverts attention from the suffering of the people of Darfur. The genocide has not ceased. The interim government is inextricably intertwined with actors of the previous administration intent on the continued persecution of the indigenoue Darfuris who were long targeted during the former regime’s rule. DWAG calls upon the Biden administration and the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to hold the interim government accountable for devastating insecurity across Darfur. 

We call on our supporters to speak up and ensure that we must continue to shine light on these atrocities and hold our leaders accountable for their silence in the face of these ongoing tragic situation in Darfur. We must keep all eyes on Darfur and hold the interim government responsible for failure to protect civilians.