The death toll from recent clashes between Arab and non-Arab groups over the past week in Sudan’s Darfur region has reached at least 125, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
The violence, the latest in the war-wracked region, erupted following a land dispute between Arab and African tribes in the town of Kulbus in West Darfur province, with local Arab militias then attacking multiple villages in the area.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the dead included over 100 from the African Gimir tribe and 25 Arabs. It said the clashes injured more than 130 others, mostly Africans.
OCHA said at least 25 villages in the Kulbus area were attacked, looted and burned, and that at least 50,000 people were forced to flee their homes in West Darfur and neighboring North Darfur province, where the clashes spread.
Gimir tribal leader Ibrahim Hashem said the situation “remained tense” in all the villages in and around Kulbus.
He said the government had deployed units largely drawn from the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) around the Gimir villages.
The fighting was the latest bout of tribal violence in Darfur. It came as Sudan remains mired in a wider crisis following an October military coup – a takeover that upended Sudan’s transition to democracy after a popular uprising forced the removal of longtime President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.
The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when ethnic Africans rebelled, accusing the Arab-dominated government in the capital of Khartoum of discrimination. Al-Bashir’s government was accused of retaliating by arming local nomadic Arab tribes and unleashing militias known as the janjaweed on civilians there – a charge it denied.
Al-Bashir, who has been in prison in Khartoum since he was ousted from power in 2019, was indicted over a decade ago by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide and crimes against humanity perpetrated in Darfur.
The Darfur Bar Association, a local civil society group, had called on the UN Security Council to help stem the violence in a statement condemning the “arbitrary killing of children, women and the elderly.” At the request of the Sudanese government, a joint UN and African Union mission, UNAMID, ended 13 years of peacekeeping operations in December 2020.