The Scorched-earth Tactics in Darfur Crisis

Competition over resources and environmental degradation can be understood as principal causes of communal conflict in Darfur, but the ongoing carnage is also a product of a long history of ethnic marginalisation and manipulation by Sudan’s ruling elites.

A heated meeting takes place between residents of Zamzam camp for the internally displaced in North Darfur. They petitioned the new civilian-led government in Khartoum to bring peace and democracy to their region. Photography: Tom Gardner/TNH

Humanitarian aid access to communities affected by an ongoing war has always presented considerable difficulties and problems. Darfur has been no exception.

The Government of Sudan has assisted whenever and wherever it can in facilitating relief efforts in Darfur by international and national non-governmental organisations.

Presently, some six thousand aid workers are in 155 different locations in Darfur. The World Food Programme is present in 136 of these centres and is feeding a million displaced persons.

The weak ethnically intertwined borders affected Darfur during the Chadian civil wars of the 1980s, in which Libya became heavily involved. Also, the mounting  series of military adventures in Chad, Libya supported various Chadian factions who used Darfur as a rear base, pillaging local farmers and cattle-herders and pouring large amount of arms into the region.

The recent intensified clashes between elements from Arab and non-Arab Massalit ethnic groups during the two previous days, thousands of inhabitants of El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, and of the IDP camps in the vicinity fled the fighting. Many crossed into neighbouring Chad in search of safety, while thousands of others joined their extended families throughout Darfur.

Ending the killings

Darfur’s indiscriminate killings escalated and two sides reported at least 70 people killed and scores more injured. A report from the Massalit chieftain indicated that armed, uniformed fighters motivated by tribal considerations raided Kerending camp, torched the houses, and killed some fifty displaced people, forcing survivors to flee.

However, the gunfire prevented emergency workers rescuing the wounded or collecting the dead. Fearing for their own safety, workers in humanitarian agencies were evacuated earlier this year.

The doctors at the hospital were allegedly threatened as they tried to treat the wounded from both sides. The sudden fighting left thousands of people stranded across Darfur as they were forced to interrupt their travel to El Geneina.

Nevertheless, Sudan’s Security and Defense Council announced taking measures to face the current security situation, in light of tribal conflicts in some areas, which have left dozens dead and wounded.

It is estimated that 30,000 people were forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in and around the state capital, El Geneina, the UN humanitarian affairs coordination office, OCHA, said, citing information from the Government. UNAMID has relocated 32 aid workers to Zalingei, capital of neighbouring Central Darfur state, amid security concerns.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok paid an historic first visit to a rebel stronghold in the country’s south on January, 2020 marking a major step in efforts by the transitional government towards peace.


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