Darfur’s Massalit tribal people fear new genocide amid rising violence by paramilitaries

Darfur’s Massalit tribal people fear new genocide amid rising violence by paramilitaries
Sudanese refugees gather as Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams assist the war wounded from West Darfur, Sudan, in Adre hospital, Chad, on June 16, 2023. (Mohammad Ghannam/MSF photo via REUTERS)
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Updated 28 June 2023
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Darfur’s Massalit tribal people fear new genocide amid rising violence by paramilitaries

Darfur’s Massalit tribal people fear new genocide amid rising violence by paramilitaries
  • Sudan’s war has killed nearly 2,800 people nationwide and uprooted roughly 2.8 million as battles rage
  • Dagalo's RSF accused of targeting the non-Arab ethnic minority Massalit, whom the army has supported in the current round of fighting

KHARTOUM: Sudan’s war has brought painful memories back to the troubled Darfur region where armed groups are accused of ethnically targeting civilians, sparking fears of a new “genocide.”

“They burned every house in the neighborhood and killed my brother in front of me,” recounted one survivor, Inaam, who fled the western region for neighboring Chad.
Her harrowing escape took her through streets “littered with bodies,” said the human rights defender who, like others interviewed by AFP, used a pseudonym for fear of retaliation against relatives.
Such testimonies have sparked alarm about a repeat of the bloody history of Darfur, where former strongman Omar Al-Bashir in 2003 unleashed Arab tribal militia in a scorched-earth campaign to quash a non-Arab rebellion against perceived inequalities.
The unrest killed at least 300,000 people and displaced 2.5 million, according to the UN, and sparked international charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against Bashir and others.
The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) later emerged from the notorious Janjaweed militia which spearheaded Bashir’s deadly onslaught.
Against that background, Darfuris watched with terror when the RSF went to war in mid-April with the Sudanese army and fighting quickly spread from the capital Khartoum back to their home region.
Inaam said that, nine days after hostilities erupted, the RSF and allied Arab militias descended on her hometown of El Geneina, capital of West Darfur state.
After they torched her neighborhood, she fled on “detours to avoid RSF and Arab tribal fighters” and managed to cross the border to Chad about 30 kilometers (18 miles) away.
Another refugee, who asked to be identified only as Mohammed, also recounted passing through terrifying checkpoints.
At every stop, “Arab militia fighters asked us our names and our tribe,” he told AFP. Depending on the answers, he said, some “were executed.”
The RSF and their allies, Mohammed charged, “are specifically targeting Massalit,” a non-Arab ethnic minority whom he said “the army has supported” in the current round of fighting.
“An old conflict is re-awakening in El Geneina.”

Sudan’s war has killed nearly 2,800 people nationwide and uprooted roughly 2.8 million as battles rage between the forces of army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and his former deputy, RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.
Much of the worst fighting has hit Darfur in unrest that Washington has labelled an “ominous reminder” of the past “genocide.”
The Massalit are one of the major non-Arab ethnic groups in Darfur, which is also home to Arab tribes such as the Rizeigat, the pastoralist camel-herding people from which Daglo hails.
Volker Perthes, head of the United Nations mission to Sudan, warned in mid-June that “there is an emerging pattern of large-scale targeted attacks against civilians based on their ethnic identities, allegedly committed by Arab militias and some armed men” in RSF uniform.
“These reports are deeply worrying and, if verified, could amount to crimes against humanity.”
On Tuesday, the United States, Norway and Britain said targeted ethnic violence and other abuses in Darfur are “mostly attributed” to RSF and allied militias.
Power blackouts and severed phone and Internet access have severely hampered reporting from the region the size of France that is home to about a quarter of Sudan’s 48 million people.
The UN has also said that “RSF and allied militias are reportedly surrounding the cities” of El Fasher in North Darfur and Nyala in South Darfur.
Amnesty International warned of “terrifying similarity with the war crimes and crimes against humanity” perpetrated in Darfur since 2003.

According to the US State Department, up to 1,100 people have been killed in El Geneina alone, but the Massalit tribal leadership says the real toll is even higher.
They charged in a statement that more than 5,000 people were killed, 8,000 injured and hundreds of thousands displaced by June 12.
People have suffered “the worst crimes against humanity, murder, ethnic cleansing and looting,” they said, reporting that “snipers have spread out on rooftops” and police “have joined RSF ranks.”
Mohammed said families quickly learnt that “only the women could go out to fetch water, because the snipers would target every man.”
Army soldiers meanwhile “have not left their bases since the war began,” he said, echoing the situation in much of Khartoum.
A tribal leader told AFP that “the RSF and the Arabs have killed, looted and burned” everything in their path.
In El Geneina, “the house of the Massalit sultan” has been under “constant attack,” he said.
Tribal leaders and activists have been killed in their homes, according to the West Darfur lawyers’ union.
In mid-June, the sultan’s brother Tarek Bahr El-Din was killed, as was West Darfur Governor Khamis Abdullah Abakar, who had hours earlier accused the RSF of “genocide” on Saudi television.
The RSF denied killing Abakar and blamed forces it said were acting “against the background of an old tribal conflict.”
RSF general Abdel Rahman Gumma Barak Allah accused the army of having armed minority groups, including “1,000 Aringa men and 1,500 Massalit” and charged they had attacked police in El Geneina.


The fighting has deepened a long-running humanitarian crisis, say aid groups, after clinics were raided and food warehouses ransacked in Darfur.
“The conflict has not only endangered lives through direct violence but has also severely hindered access to health care,” Doctors Without Borders (MSF) told AFP.
Another refugee, teacher Ibrahim Issa, told AFP he had made it “out of the hell” of El Geneina, where the fighting had brought back dark memories “of 2003 and 2004, when you were killed for your ethnicity.”
Mohammed said the conflict between the army and RSF “has turned into a civil war and a genocide.”
MSF medics in Chad reported treating refugees with bullet wounds who were targeted “as they tried to leave the city.”
The group also reported sexual violence including the rape of a 15-year-old girl by “six armed men in a bus” while she was fleeing to Chad with her 18-year-old sister.
Alice Nderitu, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, also warned of the threat of “renewed campaigns of rape, murder and ethnic cleansing.”


The latest Darfur violence has again raised the question of whether those responsible will one day face justice.
“In principle, many of the crimes documented to date in Darfur likely constitute at least crimes against humanity, if not war crimes,” human rights lawyer Emma DiNapoli told AFP.
But proving them will depend on what evidence activists can gather while dodging bullets and arson attacks.
“Activists on the ground should be documenting evidence to the highest standard possible, particularly taking the details of eyewitnesses to violations and documenting evidence of command and control or perpetrator information,” DiNapoli said.
Since the UN Security Council referred the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court with no end date, the court “in theory” has “jurisdiction over crimes committed in the present day,” she added.
But Sudan’s past does not offer much hope. Khartoum never handed over any suspects wanted by the ICC, and some have escaped prison since the new war broke out.
Four suspects including Bashir remain at large. One, who voluntarily surrendered elsewhere in Africa, is on trial in The Hague.
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Yemen’s Houthis say they will continue sinking British ships

Yemen’s Houthis say they will continue sinking British ships
Updated 15 sec ago
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Yemen’s Houthis say they will continue sinking British ships

Yemen’s Houthis say they will continue sinking British ships
  • The US military confirmed on Saturday that the UK-owned vessel Rubymar had sunk after being struck by an anti-ship ballistic missile
CAIRO: Yemen’s Houthis vowed on Sunday to continue targeting British ships in the Gulf of Aden following the sinking of UK-owned vessel Rubymar.
The US military confirmed on Saturday that the UK-owned vessel Rubymar had sunk after being struck by an anti-ship ballistic missile fired by Yemeni Houthi militants on Feb. 18.
“Yemen will continue to sink more British ships, and any repercussions or other damages will be added to Britain’s bill,” Hussein Al-Ezzi, deputy foreign minister in the Houthi-led government, said in a post on X.
“It is a rogue state that attacks Yemen and partners with America in sponsoring ongoing crimes against civilians in Gaza.”

Born and died during Gaza war, infant twins are buried in Rafah

Born and died during Gaza war, infant twins are buried in Rafah
Updated 14 min 58 sec ago
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Born and died during Gaza war, infant twins are buried in Rafah

Born and died during Gaza war, infant twins are buried in Rafah
  • The twins — a boy and a girl — were among five children killed in the strike on a house in Rafah
  • The members of the Abu Anza family killed in the strike were lined up in black body bags

RAFAH: Born a few weeks into the Gaza war, infant twins Wesam and Naeem Abu Anza were buried on Sunday, the youngest of 14 members of the same family whom Gaza health authorities say were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Rafah overnight.
Their mother, Rania Abu Anza, held one of the twins, its tiny body wrapped in a white shroud, to her cheek and stroked its head during the funeral on Sunday. A mourner held the second baby close by, pale blue pyjamas visible beneath a shroud.
“My heart is gone,” wept Abu Anza, whose husband was also killed, as mourners comforted her. She resisted when asked to release the body of one of the babies ahead of burial. “Leave her with me,” she said, in a low voice.
The twins — a boy and a girl — were among five children killed in the strike on a house in Rafah, according to the health ministry in Gaza. Abu Anza said she had given birth to them — her first children — after 11 years of marriage.
“We were asleep, we were not shooting and we were not fighting. What is their fault? What is their fault, what is her fault?” Abu Anza said.
“How will I continue to live now?“
Relatives said the twins had been born some four months ago, about a month into the war which began on Oct. 7, when Hamas stormed Israel, in an attack that killed 1,200 people and resulted in another 253 being abducted, according to Israeli tallies.
Israel’s offensive has killed more than 30,000 people in the Gaza Strip since then, according to Gaza health authorities, laying waste to the territory and uprooting most of its population.
The members of the Abu Anza family killed in the strike were lined up in black body bags. A man wept over the body of one of the dead, a child wearing pyjamas. “God have mercy on her, God have mercy on her,” said another man, consoling him.
Abu Anza said she had been wishing for a ceasefire before Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month which begins around March 10.
US President Joe Biden has expressed hope one will be agreed by then. “We were preparing for Ramadan, how am I supposed to live my life? How?” she said.


Arab foreign ministers meet in Riyadh to discuss Gaza war

Arab foreign ministers meet in Riyadh to discuss Gaza war
Updated 35 min 28 sec ago
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Arab foreign ministers meet in Riyadh to discuss Gaza war

Arab foreign ministers meet in Riyadh to discuss Gaza war
  • Meeting held on the sidelines of GCC ministerial session
  • Foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt and Morocco discuss Gaza

RIYADH: The Gulf Cooperation Council carried its 159th ministerial session in Riyadh on Sunday, while separate meetings were held involving the foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.

Joint ministerial meeting held on the sidelines between the GCC and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that what is happening in Gaza is a systematic plan to liquidate the Palestinian cause. Adding that "Security solutions to the conflict have brought nothing but destruction to the region, and the escalation in Gaza extended to the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab"

Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Jasem Mohammed Al-Budaiwi firmly reiterated the collective stance of the GCC nations, denouncing the severe Israeli infringements of international humanitarian law in Gaza, particularly its consistent and direct targeting of civilians. Al-Budaiwi also underscored the immediate need for a ceasefire.

Al-Budaiwi also pointed out GCC rejection of any measure that would affect Egypt’s right to the Nile waters and stressed the necessity to reach an agreement on the Renaissance Dam.


Arab foreign ministers meet in Riyadh to discuss Gaza war

Arab foreign ministers meet in Riyadh to discuss Gaza war
Updated 03 March 2024
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Arab foreign ministers meet in Riyadh to discuss Gaza war

Arab foreign ministers meet in Riyadh to discuss Gaza war

RIYADH: The Gulf Cooperation Council carried its 159th ministerial session in Riyadh on Sunday, while separate meetings were held involving the foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt and Morocco.

Joint ministerial meeting held on the sidelines between the GCC and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, and Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that what is happening in Gaza is a systematic plan to liquidate the Palestinian cause. Adding that "Security solutions to the conflict have brought nothing but destruction to the region, and the escalation in Gaza extended to the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab"

Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Jasem Mohammed Al-Budaiwi firmly reiterated the collective stance of the GCC nations, denouncing the severe Israeli infringements of international humanitarian law in Gaza, particularly its consistent and direct targeting of civilians. Al-Budaiwi also underscored the immediate need for a ceasefire.

Al-Budaiwi also pointed out GCC rejection of any measure that would affect Egypt’s right to the Nile waters and stressed the necessity to reach an agreement on the Renaissance Dam.

 


Hamas, Qatari, US envoys in Cairo for Gaza talks: state-linked media

Hamas, Qatari, US envoys in Cairo for Gaza talks: state-linked media
Updated 17 min 31 sec ago
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Hamas, Qatari, US envoys in Cairo for Gaza talks: state-linked media

Hamas, Qatari, US envoys in Cairo for Gaza talks: state-linked media
  • A Hamas official says a ceasefire in Gaza may be secured if Israel accepts group's demands
  • Meanwhile, the Israeli military intensified operations in Khan Younis

CAIRO: Delegations from Hamas, Qatar and the United States have arrived in Egypt for “a new round of negotiations” toward a truce in the Gaza war, state-linked Al-Qahera News reported Sunday.
Cairo, Doha and Washington have mediated in weeks of talks aiming to pause the fighting in the almost five-months-old war between Israel and Hamas sparked by the October 7 attack.
Their goal has been to secure a truce by the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on March 10 or 11, but hopes have been dampened by a series of failed talks since a one-week pause in November.
A Hamas source on Sunday told AFP its delegation to Cairo is being led by senior leader Khalil Al-Haya.
“The delegation will meet Egyptian mediators and deliver the group’s response to the new Paris proposal,” the source said, in reference to negotiations held last month in the French capital with Israel’s presence.
The United States regards Hamas as a “terrorist” organization, and in previous talks Egyptian officials have functioned as the key conduit between US envoys and Hamas, as well as between Israel and Hamas.
The negotiations have centered on a proposal to pause the fighting for six weeks and for Hamas to free hostages in return for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, and greater aid deliveries.
The war began on October 7 with an unprecedented Hamas attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official figures.
Gaza militants also abducted 250 hostages, of whom 130 remain in captivity according to Israel, a figure that includes 31 presumed dead.
Israel’s retaliatory offensive on the besieged Palestinian territory has killed 30,410 people, mostly women and children, the Gaza health ministry reported Sunday.