Sudan: Deaths, Kidnapping and Threats As Herdsmen Force Cattle Onto Darfur Farms

Kutum / Mukjar — Two displaced people were killed, a third was wounded, and a fourth was kidnapped in attacks on farmers by armed herdsmen on Tuesday and Wednesday in Kutum, North Darfur. Displaced farmers in Central Darfur have been held at gunpoint as herders let their camels graze on the farmed pastures.

Yahya El Khumus told Radio Dabanga that four armed men on two motorcycles blocked the way of farmers coming to the village of Goz Aba on Tuesday and shot them, which led to the death of El Amin Ahmed and the wounding of Hamed Teirab.

The injured Teirab was taken to Kutum Hospital whilst Ahmed was buried in Kassab camp cemetery on Wednesday.

More gunmen on motorcycles launched a new attack on the village of Goz Aba on Wednesday after one of them was arrest following the first incident, El Khumus told Radio Dabanga.

This second attack led to the death of Adam Mousa and the kidnapping of Haroun Idris. El Khumus accused the Kutum locality authorities of being late in sending a police force despite being informed of the events timely.

According to El Khumus, the attackers forcefully want to let their camels graze on the farms in the area. He called for the intervention of the North Darfur Security Committee to protect villagers and agricultural lands.

Residents of Mukjar camp for the displaced in Central Darfur also complained of the deteriorating security situation as herdsmen forcefully herd of their camels onto the farmlands whilst holding farmers at gunpoint.

A displaced woman from the camp demanded the Central Darfur government to intervene urgently to protect the displaced and their farms via Radio Dabanga. She said that the damage to crops could lead to starvation among farmers because the current international aid is not enough to cover their daily needs so they depend on a successful harvest.

Earlier this month, a child died and three others were taken to the hospital in critical condition after being poisoned eating from the landfill near Otash camp for the displaced in Central Darfur out of hunger as Sudan’s food crisis worsens.

At the time, Head of the Otash camp Sheikh Abdelrazeg Jales called on the authorities to protect the agricultural season, especially by providing security to the displaced and their farmlands, to secure food production for the displaced.

He described the current season as promising to Radio Dabanga but expressed his fears of herdsmen letting their cattle graze on the cultivated lands.

Darfur herders and farmers conflict

Disputes between herders and farmers occur regularly in Darfur this time of year. As the rainy season ends in September and the herders need fresh pastures, they let their camels and cattle graze on farmlands that have not yet been harvested. Each year, farmers complain about livestock destroying their crops.

In the past, there used to be clearly marked pasture tracks and traditional tribal procedures for the compensation of lost crops, but this has changed during the regime of Omar Al Bashir. The regime supported the ‘Arab’ herding tribes in the region, whilst looking down on non-Arab ‘African’ farmers.

Arab tribesmen were recruited by the previous regime of dictator Omar Al Bashir to join the Janjaweed militias. Al Bashir employed these Arab militias to repress a revolt over ethnic marginalisation in the region, mainly targeting non-Arab African farmers in what became known as the Darfur Genocide. Many of these farmers still live in camps for the displaced.

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