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World

New killings revive old fears in Darfur village

  • Things took a turn for the worse with last month's tribal clashes in West and South Darfur, which left some 250 people dead.
08 Feb 2021

HAMADA VILLAGE: Farmer Abbas Abdullah was among hundreds who had trickled back to his remote village in South Darfur nearly a decade after fleeing war there. Now, he thinks he rushed the decision.

Abdullah, from the Bergid ethnic minority, was attacked last week by Arab nomads on horses and camels at his farm in the village of Hamada, hundreds of kilometres west of the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

"They whipped me and forced me to stand under the scorching sun from the morning until sunset," said the 80-year-old, outside his hut in the village.

"They then allowed their livestock to graze on my crops. It was all destroyed."

The assault, he said, was grimly reminiscent of the 2003 Darfur conflict in which now-ousted president Omar al-Bashir unleashed Arab militias against marginalised ethnic African minorities following an uprising against his rule.

In 2005, Hamada was raided by the notorious government-backed Janjaweed, who slaughtered cattle, burned farms and forced the village's 3,000 residents to seek refuge in grim displacement camps.

Abdullah only returned to the village in 2016 after the conflict had largely subsided and a joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission UNAMID had launched regular patrols in the vast, arid region.

He has since resumed growing oranges, mangoes and vegetables, despite periodic clashes with Arab tribes over livestock and access to water.

Things took a turn for the worse with last month's tribal clashes in West and South Darfur, which left some 250 people dead.

The clashes coincided with the end of UNAMID's mandate in Darfur on December 31.

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