Muhajiriya Update

I wrote yesterday about the dire situation of Muhajiriya, South Darfur, in which 196 peacekeepers were the only thing standing between Sudanese government forces and 20,000 civilians huddled around a UN base there. The town has since fallen.

Speaking to VOA, John Norris of the Enough Project thinks Khartoum’s assault on Muhajiriya was a “test” to see how the new American administration will respond.

“It’s clear that the Sudanese government right now is testing the fence, as it were. Obviously, President Bashir is increasingly concerned by what looks very likely like it will be an arrest warrant handed down by the International Criminal Court (ICC), probably as soon as this month. And I think that they are hoping to escalate pressure, not only on the United States, but on the international community, to strengthen their hand and make the at least theoretical case that perhaps, an arrest warrant should be deferred,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Darfuri living in the United States relays to UN Dispatch stories of renewed fighting elsewhere in Darfur.

While rightfully all attention is concentrated on town of Muhajiriiyah,
other towns and villages around Muhajiriiyah (especially those on the path of [government] and Janjaweed forces) are witnessing atrocities and massive displacements of civilians:

1- Stories of looting, mass graves (family of 9 including father and mother are killed) in the village of Graidah.
2- Massive exodus from town of Labado towards Nyala, south Darfur.
3- Massive exodus from Shiriiya and villages around it towards Nyala and some headed to ElFasher (Capital of North Darfur).
4- All the above mentioned Towns and villages have seen continuous aerial bombardment since Friday.

It’s clear that the Sudanese government is genuinely worried about the forthcoming ICC arrest warrant. I’ve been writing about Darfur since 2004. There is a tension and apprehension in what’s happening there like I have not seen in a very long time. I’m pretty nervous myself.