On January 15, 2016, the government of Sudan renewed heavy air raids and shelling of civilian areas in inner Jebel Marra, Darfur. A few days ago we brought you this brief update on the spreading violence that is impacting an estimated 95,000 people. Since then, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have started attacking communities directly on the ground and are blocking virtually all roads people would be able to escape on.
In the last three days, the situation has drastically deteriorated. The government has begun using very inaccurate but destructive barrel bombs, which have destroyed schools, homes, and clean water sources. While there are no official numbers yet, multiple sources estimate that 23,000 families have been displaced this week alone. Most have fled outer villages into the inner valleys and mountain caves of Jebel Marra. RSF units are reportedly committing mass rapes in the area as part of a targeted campaign against civilians.
On January 20, a joint SAF/RSF force massacred 42 people during a shooting spree in Golo, Mount Marra.
These renewed government attacks against civilians follow a long pattern of war crimes committed by the Sudanese government not only across Darfur, but also in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states as well. The pattern is nearly identical each time: the Sudanese Air Force barrel bombs communities, RSF militiamen enter the area to rape and kill survivors who have not fled, and SAF forces provide support to the RSF as needed.
The government of Sudan is also using heavy SAF equipment to transfer additional RSF units into and out of the area. On January 18, over 70 wounded RSF militiamen were transferred out of Kabkabiya to El Fasher in two SAF helicopters.
About Jebel Marra
Government troops and rebels have been battling around the mountainous Jebel Marra area straddling Central, South and North Darfur states for years. The area is seen as a stronghold for rebels battling the regime of President and indicted war criminal Omar al-Bashir. The rebel uprising in Darfur began in 2003 after years of severe oppression of Darfuri communities by the Bashir regime. The government's response to the uprising has been widely described as a genocide against Darfuri tribal groups.
The situation in Jebel Marra has quieted down in recent months as part of a widespread ceasefire that extended into South Kordofan and Blue Nile states as well. But renewed government attacks in Jebel Marra match an uptick of aerial bombings and shelling in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states as well.
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