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Surging Inter-Ethnic Violence in Sudan’s Darfur Region Leaves Hundreds Dead, Injured

FILE - This photo shows aftermath of an attack in the village of Masteri in west Darfur, Sudan, July 25, 2020.
FILE - This photo shows aftermath of an attack in the village of Masteri in west Darfur, Sudan, July 25, 2020.

The U.N. Human Rights Office is calling for increased security in Sudan’s volatile Darfur region, where a recent surge in inter-communal violence has resulted in hundreds of deaths and injuries, and mass displacement.

Clashes erupted between armed men of the Masalit and Arab communities last weekend in a camp for internally displaced people in West Darfur. The violence reportedly left 160 people dead and 215 injured.

In a separate incident in South Darfur Monday, fighting between armed men from the Falata and Reizigat tribes reportedly killed 72 people and injured 73 others. In both cases, U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani says inter-communal violence was triggered by the killing of a member of one of the rival communities.

“What is very worrying is given the lack of security in these areas and given the lack of accountability for crimes and human rights violations, people are feeling emboldened to take the law into their own hands and a single incident can really very easily spark inter-communal conflict and can lead to many people being killed and displaced," said Shamdasani.

The U.N. human rights office is calling on the government of Sudan to promptly ensure the full implementation of its National Plan for the protection of civilians in Darfur.

Shamdasani notes the government said it would deploy a joint force composed of 12,000 security officers to the region. She adds that has not happened.

“These incidents raise serious concerns about the imminent risk of further violence in Darfur, an environment where decades-old ethnic and tribal tensions that were further stoked by the previous regime continue to fester. There are severe gaps in protection by state authorities, as well as a lack of accountability for violations," said Shamdasani.

The U.N. agency is urging Sudanese authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into the deadly incidents and to ensure individual perpetrators are brought to justice. Accountability for crimes, it says, is crucial in breaking the cycle of armed citizens taking the law into their own hands to avenge attacks on members of their communities.