In Darfur fighting involving government forces, government-aligned militias, rebel groups, and ethnic groups continued. These groups injured and killed other combatants and civilians, raped and displaced civilians, and exploited child soldiers.
Clashes between the SAF-associated militias and Darfur rebel movements, notably the Sudan Liberation Army Minni Minnawi faction (SLA/MM), Sudan Liberation Army Abdul Wahid faction (SLA/AW), and the Justice and Equality Movement for Sudan, resulted in significant deaths on both sides. An estimated 4,282 persons in Darfur were killed during the year, an increase from 1,637 persons in 2012.
Security in the Darfur region deteriorated during the year due to the rise in intertribal conflict, as well as continued clashes between the government and rebel factions, and attacks by progovernment militias on unarmed civilians in South, North, and East Darfur states. UNAMID estimated intertribal conflicts caused 1,274 deaths in Darfur from January to October. In January and February, two Arab tribes, the Rizeigat and Beni Hussein, clashed over gold mines in Jebel Amir, North Darfur, which resulted in an estimated 200 deaths, more than 100,000 displaced, and 25 villages burnt.
Reports claimed tribal combatants affiliated with government security forces, including the Border Guards and Central Reserve Police, supported their tribes in intertribal conflicts, further increasing the number of deaths. Sources documented attacks by progovernment militia on civilians in areas controlled by both rebels and the government in east Jebel Marra, Giraida in South Darfur, Labado, Muhajeria, Donki Direisa, and Abga Rajil. Approximately 460,000 sought refuge in IDP and refugee camps because of fighting between government and insurgent forces. An estimated two million civilians remained internally displaced in Darfur, and approximately 200,000 refugees from Darfur remained in Chad.
Armed militia attacks against UNAMID increased during the year. UNAMID vehicles were carjacked, and militia groups abducted UNAMID staff for ransom. By year’s end 16 peacekeepers had been killed. On July 14, armed militias attacked a UNAMID patrol between Khor Apache and Manwashei in South Darfur. The attackers killed seven UNAMID peacekeepers from Tanzania and injured 17 others. On December 29, unknown armed men killed two peacekeepers, one from Jordan and another from Senegal. The government failed to prosecute any suspects in attacks against UNAMID peacekeepers. Government security forces, including the NISS and SAF Military Intelligence, regularly denied UNAMID access to their areas of control.
Government forces and their allied militias clashed with SLA/MM after SLA/MM captured Muhajeria and Labado in April. The attacks by progovernment militias forced the population of both locations to IDP camps, leaving behind their property, which the militias confiscated. An estimated 40,000 individuals from Labrado and Muhajeria entered IDP camps in Kalma, El Salm, and Al-Neem. The Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) denied access to international humanitarian organizations seeking to conduct a rapid assessment of IDP needs.
Fighting between government forces, irregular militia forces aligned with the government, and rebel groups continued to affect the area of Jebel Marra. Intercommunal violence continued, notably in North and South Darfur. Conflicts in IDP camps also resulted in deaths. Reports of rape as well as recruitment of child soldiers continued.
Government forces provided support, including weapons and ammunition, to government-aligned militias, and the government seldom took action against soldiers or militia members who attacked civilians. Rebel forces received financial support from foreign sources.
Fighting, insecurity, bureaucratic obstacles, and government and rebel restrictions reduced the ability of peacekeepers and humanitarian workers to access conflict-affected areas. Armed persons attacked, killed, injured, and kidnapped peacekeepers and aid workers. Humanitarian organizations often were not able to deliver humanitarian assistance in conflict areas, particularly in Jebel Marra, South Darfur.
The government increased obstacles for UN and humanitarian staff members and reduced their access to most areas of Darfur. Lack of access and fear of government retribution reduced reporting on human rights violations, especially sexual and gender-based violence, and on humanitarian situations.
The government took few actions to implement any meaningful provisions of the chapter on justice and reconciliation in the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD). During the year, however, cases filed by the special prosecutor reached the sentencing phase. On March 28, seven JEM members were sentenced to death in El Fasher for their involvement in the attack on the village of Khor Bascaweet in 2010, which resulted in the deaths of 53 CRP officers. While there was little evidence that the Special Court was operating or that the special prosecutor was filing cases, sources reported the government requested the appointment of one African Union (AU) and one UN observer for the Special Court in accordance with the DDPD. At year’s end the AU and UN had yet to name observers for the Special Court.
The Two Areas and Abyei
Heavy fighting between the SAF and SPLM-N continued in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. Both the government and rebel fighters were accused of excessive force and targeting civilians. According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 227,000 refugees from Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile entered Ethiopia and South Sudan since June 2011. In addition the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Agency estimated the conflict had displaced or severely affected more than 800,000 persons.
The Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), a coalition force of the SPLM-N, the SLA/AW, the SLA/MM, and the JEM, conducted indiscriminate attacks on civilians in the Two Areas. On April 27, the SRF attacked targets in Northern and Southern Kordofan. The attack killed at least 30 civilians and nine SAF members. The government accused the SRF of committing serious human rights abuses, including extrajudicial executions of members of progovernment political parties in Abu Kershola. The HAC estimated the assaults on Abu Kershola and neighboring areas displaced at least 63,000 persons. Following the recapture of Abu Kershola in May, between 20,000 and 30,000 IDPs returned to their areas. Other IDPs remained settled in the neighboring areas of Um Ruwaba, El Obeid, and Khartoum.
In contrast to previous years, the government granted international humanitarian organizations limited access to government-controlled areas of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. For the first time since 2011, organizations were able to provide humanitarian relief, including hand pumps, food rations, and meningitis vaccinations. International humanitarian organizations have not had access to rebel-controlled areas of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile since June and September 2011, respectively.
The security situation in Abyei was tenuous. Tensions between the Ngok Dinka and Messiriya communities escalated following the May 4 killings of the Ngok Dinka paramount chief, Kuol Deng Kuol, one Ethiopian UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) peacekeeper, and 16 Messiriya tribesmen. Violent conflict in 2011 displaced approximately 110,000 civilians from Abyei. During the year the UN estimated 35,000 residents returned to areas south of Bahr el Arab, 22,000 returned to areas north of the Kiir River, and 60,000 remained displaced in Agok, South Sudan. Several humanitarian aid NGOs continued to provide mobile outreach services in Abyei from their bases in South Sudan.
Killings: In Darfur and the Two Areas, government forces and government-aligned militias killed civilians, including by repeated aerial bombardment of civilian areas. Ground attacks often followed aerial bombardments. Rebel forces also killed civilians during attacks. Attacks resulted in civilian displacement.
The increase in intertribal Arab conflict led to more than 4,282 deaths in Darfur during the year. In addition to deaths attributed to intertribal clashes, many deaths continued to be attributed to the SAF and militia groups. Security deteriorated in North Darfur, and violence, including indiscriminate SAF aerial bombardments, continued in the Jebel Marra area in Darfur.
In April, Salamat and Misseriya tribesmen clashed in the South Darfur towns of Um-Dukhun, Garsila, Mukjar, and Bedisi. The clashes killed more than 300 persons and displaced an estimated 74,000 others to Chad as the two tribes burned villages and looted livestock and properties in the region. On December 15, the two tribes signed a peace agreement, which includes a cessation of hostilities, reopening of roads and markets, and disbanding armed groups.
On October 20, SAF launched an airstrike on a Rezeigat tribal settlement in Hajr Dabak village, East Darfur. The airstrike resulted in 10 deaths and several injuries.
The Two Areas
SAF air raids resulted in civilian deaths throughout Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. On September 6, an air raid on the Sombok Friday market killed at least 30 civilians and injured several others. An estimated 975 persons were killed during the year.
SPLM/N’s Blue Nile Humanitarian Coordination Office reported on April 10, an air raid on the villages of Gerdan, Ura, Chali, and Mayak Babras in Blue Nile killed at least five civilians. Those killed were primarily women and children; three others were injured in the raids.
On June 14, the SPLM/N shelled Kadugli town, killing two civilians and one UNISFA peacekeeper, while wounding two UNISFA peacekeepers.
Abductions: On August 26, an unknown militia group abducted eight International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) staff members. On August 27, six of the members were released. On September 8, the two drivers were released, but the two ICRC trucks were not returned.
On March 24, the rebel group SLA/AW kidnapped 31 IDPs traveling in the Darfur region from Zalingei to Nyala to attend a conference of IDPs and refugees. SLA/AW released the IDPs unharmed on March 30.
In August 2012 unidentified militia members abducted two Jordanian UNAMID peacekeepers in Kabkabiya, North Darfur. On January 2, the militias released the two peacekeepers to the NISS, who transferred them to the UN. The government stated it continued to investigate, but by year’s end the perpetrators remained at large.
International organizations were unable independently to verify reports of disappearances due to lack of access to the region.
Physical Abuse, Punishment, and Torture: All parties to the conflict in Darfur, the Two Areas, and Abyei were accused of perpetrating torture and other abuse. The government abused persons detained after armed conflict as well as IDPs suspected of having links to rebel groups. There were continuing reports that government security forces, progovernment and antigovernment militias, and other armed persons raped women and children.
Sexual and gender-based violence continued throughout Darfur. Authorities often obstructed access to justice for rape victims. IDPs reported perpetrators of such violence were often government forces or militia members. Assailants assaulted, raped, threatened, shot, beat, and robbed women.
According to statistics by the Association of Displaced Persons and Refugees of Darfur, 68 women were raped from August to September in Darfur. In Darfur it was believed most rape victims did not report incidents; therefore, the actual number of rapes was likely much higher.
There were reports of physical abuse and violent interrogations of SPLM/N-affiliated individuals in Kadugli prison.
SAF and government-aligned forces reportedly burned and looted villages throughout Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Child Soldiers: The Armed Forces Act prohibits the recruitment of children and provides criminal penalties for perpetrators. Eyewitness reports, however, indicated both the government and rebel groups had child soldiers engaged in conflict.
In 2012 the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) for Children and Armed Conflict reported 31 incidents of recruitment or use of children by armed groups in Darfur, including government security forces, government-supported armed groups, and rebel groups. This was a decrease from the 45 incidents reported in 2011. The SRSG reported 125 incidents in the Two Areas and Abyei in 2012, an increase from 52 incidents in 2011.
Rebel groups associated with the SRF (SPLM-N, JEM, SLA/MM, SLA/AW) and groups outside the SRF umbrella (including the Sudan Liberation Movement for Justice and the United Revolutionary Forces Front), as well as various government security forces (including police), all continued to recruit child soldiers. Armed groups reported they did not actively recruit child soldiers; however, they did not prevent children who volunteered from joining their movements. The armed groups stated the children were primarily stationed in training camps and were not used in combat.
According to the UN, the rebel group known as SLA-Historical Leadership was implementing an action plan to end its recruitment and use of child soldiers. The group reported to the UN in 2012 it had proposed 120 former child soldiers for reintegration to the Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission. At year’s end a reported 80 child soldiers from SLA-Historical Leadership were registered in children’s disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programs.
Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at 2009-2017.state.gov/j/tip/.
Other Conflict-related Abuses: All parties to the Darfur and Two Areas conflicts obstructed the work of humanitarian organizations, UNAMID, and other UN agencies, increasing the displacement of civilians and abuse of IDPs. Violence, insecurity, and the denial of visas and refusal of access to international organizations reduced the ability of humanitarian organizations to provide needed services.
Despite the joint communique between the government and the UN, government forces frequently harassed NGOs that received international assistance. The government restricted or denied permission for humanitarian assessments, refused to approve technical agreements, changed procedures, copied NGO files, confiscated NGO property, questioned humanitarian workers at length and monitored their personal correspondence, delayed issuance of visas and travel permits, restricted travel, and publicly accused humanitarian workers of aiding rebel groups.
Humanitarian organizations continued to face challenges in accessing populations in Darfur. NGOs were unable to access government and rebel-held territories. Relief agencies faced increasing obstruction by the government, including new arbitrary rules and regulations that undermined the delivery of relief assistance. NGOs reported they had to register for permits twice, once in Khartoum and also in the areas where they worked.
UN agencies also experienced increased constraints regarding access. Police and government security forces frequently declined to provide escorts for UN agencies to areas affected by fighting, and at other times cited continued instability and restricted the movement of UN-sponsored fuel, food, and nonfood supplies to areas outside of major population centers. The UNHCR issued a public appeal to the government on August 6 requesting the renewal of work permits for its international staff working in Darfur.
Policy discrepancies between Darfur state-level and HAC officials in Khartoum adversely affected humanitarian operations. The HAC continued to require NGOs to refrain from interviewing or selecting staff unless they used a five-person government selection panel with HAC officials present, significantly delaying the hiring of new staff in Darfur. The HAC also continued to impose additional requirements on humanitarian organizations on an ad hoc basis, often at the state level.
Attacks on humanitarian and UNAMID convoys increased during the year. Bandits obstructed humanitarian assistance, regularly attacked the compounds of humanitarian organizations, and seized humanitarian aid and other assets, including vehicles. Instability forced many international aid organizations to reduce their operations in Darfur.
The Two Areas
In 2012 the government and SPLM/N signed separate memoranda of understanding for humanitarian access to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile with the UN, AU, and League of Arab States, known collectively as “the Tripartite.” The plan was not implemented by year’s end.
On November 11, John Ging, director of the operational division at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told reporters the UN was unable to vaccinate 165,000 children against polio in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile after the government and the SPLM/N – who had both agreed to the immunization campaign – disagreed over the need for another meeting between the two parties.