“El Geneina... post-holocaust scenes”
A reporter tours the West Darfur capital in the aftermath of brutal ethnic killings
This is a translation of an article published yesterday in Arabic by Darfur24. Given the importance of the story, we took the liberty of translating it into English, since it had not been done yet. This work was done by a volunteer Sudanese translator who wishes to remain anonymous. The reporter of the original article also is anonymous. However, Darfur24 itself is an established online news outlet run by Darfur journalists.
Trigger warning: this article contains descriptions of violence.
Despite the cessation of fighting in the city of El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, since the last battle in which the governor of the state, Khamis Abakar, was assassinated ten days ago, and the sound of bullets in the city has subsided, the situation is still characterized by extreme caution, and the appearance of the city, which is soaked in blood and strewn with body parts of the victims, appears bleak. Until now, the smell of rotting corpses reeks in the nostrils, and it stinks in all the streets of the neighborhoods that witnessed fighting.
In the outer markets of the city of El Geneina, there is widespread trade in looted belongings at very low prices. The Darfur 24 reporter monitored the sale of “Click” cars at prices not exceeding 250,000 pounds, equivalent to 500 dollars only, while a sack of millet was sold at a price of 8,000 pounds, and corn 5,000 pounds, and a sack of peanuts 5,000 pounds.
It seems that the people who offer these things and collectibles for sale in these markets are in a hurry and want to get rid of what they have as soon as possible, and according to the observations of the Darfur 24 correspondent, most of these people are armed with light weapons—Kalashnikovs, GM3s, and expensive Belgian pistols—and they wear clothes civilian.
I asked one of the sellers why these cars and foodstuffs are being sold at low prices? He said in response that these things are stolen.
In the streets of the city center, where the smell of corpses that have passed for more than ten days reek, and the doors of houses and shops are wide open, from time to time the sound of gunfire is heard inside the houses, and when I asked my escort about the reason for the shooting, he said, “al-Kankanah,” a term given to people who looted or stole cars or the contents of homes after residents fled the neighborhoods.
The Darfur 24 reporter saw some cars carrying belongings and speeding through the streets, and there are also horse-drawn carts carrying household equipment crossing the roads, except that you rarely see pedestrians roaming the streets.
Suffering of the Injured Civilians
People who were injured as a result of the battles that took place in the city of El Geneina during the past two months are facing tragic health conditions that are difficult to describe, especially those who suffered severe fractures in the battles. Medical staff, including orthopedic and fracture specialists, departed to neighboring Chad after the outbreak of armed clashes. Medical personnel indicated that there was no x-ray service remaining in the city and that there was severe suffering for the injured.
One of the injured told Darfur 24 that on April 25 he suffered fractures in his foot and hand. He spent more than 40 days in a medical center waiting for treatment. Now, he added, my family decided to deport me to Nyala to get the necessary health care. He pointed out that the costs of his transport to Nyala, along with two escorts, was more than 500,000 pounds.
Darfur 24 learned that the increase in travel tickets to Nyala is due to the fact that travel is carried out by smuggling, due to the closure of the road in the city of Zalingei by the Armed Forces. Sources revealed to Darfur 24 that the wounded are being transported to the city of Nyala via Saraf Omra locality in North Darfur state.
In the meantime, and despite the calm security conditions, dozens of families still leave the city of El Geneina daily, including refugees to neighboring Chad, via the Adré road, some of whom are carried by cars through very complex security measures, and others cross by foot, and many of them lost their lives at the hands of the Arab tribal militias which are widely spread around the city. As for the displaced people, they go to other cities of Sudan through the state of North Darfur, and these routes are perhaps easier than the way of the refugees.
Statement by UN Human Rights Spokesperson
On Saturday, June 24, the UN Human Rights Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani stated, “El Geneina has become uninhabitable.” She released details about the UN investigations of “wanton killings” on an ethnic basis in El Geneina. We already included this in our previous newsletter, but repeat it here again for the benefit of new subscribers and anyone who missed it:
Interviews with people who have fled El-Geneina, West Darfur, into Adre in Chad have revealed horrifying accounts of armed “Arab” militia backed by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) killing people fleeing El Geneina on foot. Our UN Human Rights officers have heard multiple, corroborating accounts that “Arab” militia are primarily targeting male adults from the Masalit community. All those interviewed also spoke of seeing dead bodies scattered along the road – and the stench of decomposition. Several people spoke off seeing dozens of bodies in an area referred to as Shukri, around 10km from the border, where one or more of the Arab militias reportedly has a base.
We are gravely concerned that such wanton killings are ongoing and urge immediate action to halt them. People fleeing El-Geneina must be guaranteed safe passage and humanitarian agencies allowed to access to the area to collect the remains of those killed.
Out of 16 people we have so far been able to interview, 14 testified that they witnessed summary executions and the targeting of groups of civilians on the road between El-Geneina and the border – either the shooting at close range of people ordered to lie on the ground or the opening of fire into crowds. The testimonies recounted killings that took place on 15 and 16 June, but also in the past week. We understand the killings and other violence are continuing and being accompanied by persistent hate speech against the Masalit community, including calls to kill and expel them from Sudan.
One 37-year-old man said that from his group of 30 people fleeing to the Chad border, only 17 made it across. Some were killed after coming under fire from vehicles belonging to the RSF and “Arab” militia near the Chad border, while others were summarily executed, he said. Those who survived had their phones and money looted from them by armed men shouting: “You are slaves, you are Nuba”.
A 22-year-old woman gave similar accounts of killings. She told how one badly wounded young man had to be left on the ground, as they had no way of carrying him to safety across the border. “We had to leave him because we had only one donkey with us,” she said. It is difficult to estimate how many injured people may have been left to die in such circumstances.
Two interviewees testified separately that they, along with a group of people, were ordered by the RSF to leave El-Geneina. One said she was hit with sticks while being told to “get up and go to Chad – this is not your country.”
The High Commissioner for Human Rights calls on the RSF leadership to immediately, unequivocally condemn and stop the killing of people fleeing El-Geneina, and other violence and hate speech against them on the basis of their ethnicity. Those responsible for the killings and other violence must be held accountable.
El-Geneina has become uninhabitable. Essential infrastructure has been destroyed and movement of humanitarian aid to El-Geneina continues to be blocked. We urge the immediate establishment of a humanitarian corridor between Chad and El-Geneina, and safe passage for civilians out of areas affected by the hostilities.
That is the full statement. The original source is here.
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