In Darfur fighting involving government forces, government-aligned militias, rebel groups, and ethnic groups continued. During the year attacks by unidentified militia groups increased. These groups injured and killed other combatants and civilians, raped civilians, exploited child soldiers, and displaced civilians.
Clashes between the SAF-associated militias and rebel forces, as well as tribal fighting and violent criminality, killed an estimated 1,637 persons in Darfur during the year. In 2011 an estimated 939 such killings occurred.
Fighting between government forces, irregular militia forces aligned with the government, and rebel groups particularly affected the area of Jebel Marra. Intercommunal violence continued, particularly in North and South Darfur. Conflicts in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps also resulted in deaths. Rape as well as recruitment of child soldiers continued to occur.
Government forces provided support, including weapons and ammunition, to government-aligned militias, and the government seldom took action against soldiers or militia members who attacked civilians. Rebel forces reportedly received financial support from foreign sources.
Fighting, insecurity, bureaucratic obstacles, and government and rebel restrictions reduced the ability of peacekeepers and humanitarian workers to access conflict-affected areas. Armed persons attacked, killed, injured, and kidnapped peacekeepers and aid workers. Humanitarian organizations often were not able to deliver humanitarian assistance in conflict areas, particularly in Jebel Marra.
The government increased obstacles for UN and humanitarian staff members and reduced their access to most areas of Darfur. Lack of access and fear of government retribution reduced reporting on human rights violations, especially sexual and gender-based violence, and humanitarian situations.
The government remained uncooperative with UN Security Council Resolution 1593 and with execution of International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants for President Bashir, Ahmad Muhammad Haroun, former minister for humanitarian affairs and current governor of South Kordofan, and Ali Muhammad Abd al-Rahman, former senior Janjaweed commander supporting the Sudanese government against Darfur rebel groups. In March the ICC issued a further arrest warrant for Defense Minister Abd Al-Rahim Hussein on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his actions while serving as the president’s special representative in Darfur.
The government took few actions to implement any meaningful provisions of the DDPD’s chapter on justice and reconciliation. There was little evidence the Special Court was operating or that the special prosecutor was filing cases, and the government failed to request African Union (AU) and UN observers for the Special Court.
The Two Areas and Abyei
Heavy fighting between the SAF and SPLM-N continued in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Both the government and rebel fighters were accused of employing excessive force in the conflict, leading to civilian deaths and displacement. Both SAF and SPLM-N forces were accused of targeting civilians and employing violence indiscriminately. According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the fighting created 240,000 refugees from Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile since June 2011. In addition to these refugees, the UN estimated the conflict displaced or severely affected 908,000 persons.
The government restricted international humanitarian organizations’ access, making monitoring and verification of human rights abuses difficult. International humanitarian organizations have not had access to rebel-controlled areas of Southern Kordofan or Blue Nile since June and September of 2011, respectively.
The situation in the Abyei area remained calm during the year, due largely to the near complete displacement of the civilian population of the region and the presence of the UN Interim Status Force in Abyei peacekeeping forces. Due to violent conflict in the region in May 2011, approximately 110,000 civilians were displaced from the area. The UN estimated 10,000 residents returned to Abyei during the second half of the year following SAF withdrawal from the area in June, while 60,000 remained displaced in Agok, South Sudan. Several humanitarian aid NGOs, including Caritas, Mercy Corps, and Medecins Sans Frontieres, began to provide mobile outreach services in Abyei from their bases south of the River Kiir in the area of Agok.
Killings: In Darfur and the Two Areas, government forces and government-aligned militias killed civilians, including by repeated aerial bombardment of civilian areas. Ground attacks often followed aerial bombardments. Rebel forces also killed civilians during attacks. Attacks resulted in civilian displacement (see section 2.d.).
With an increase in unrest and violent incidents, a total of 1,637 violent deaths occurred in Darfur in the past year. Most deaths were attributed to the SAF and militia groups, many of which served as proxies for the government. Security deteriorated in North Darfur and violence, including SAF aerial bombardments, continued in Jebel Marra, a mountainous area that reaches into each of the Darfur states.
On August 1, members of an Arab militia group in North Darfur assassinated a local official and stormed the Kassab IDP camp near Kutum. The militia groups, reportedly affiliated with the Border Guards and CRP, looted the camp market and burned down the police post inside the camp, killing four civilians and injuring six. An additional four deaths were reported in the following week as approximately 25,000 IDPs fled the Kassab camp seeking safety. The militia groups also vandalized and looted the World Food Program, UN, and the NGO GOAL offices in Kutum and looted the town’s market.
On September 25, the SAF, supported by border guards, clashed with rebels from the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) in Hashaba, North Darfur. The media reported border guards and militia groups killed more than 80 civilians and looted the area following the initial aerial bombardment. Media and eyewitnesses reported an SAF aerial bombardment preceded the ground attack by militias on camelback and in vehicles. Approximately 2,000 IDPs from Hashaba fled following the attacks. The government denied UNAMID access to the area until October 3, when UNAMID conducted a patrol to investigate the civilian deaths and discovered one bomb crater and 16 freshly dug graves, including some containing multiple bodies. When UNAMID sent a more robust investigative patrol to the area on October 17, a militia group attacked the convoy with automatic weapon and mortar fire, killing one South African peacekeeper and injuring three others.
On October 2, unidentified militia groups ambushed a UNAMID patrol 1.2 miles from the UNAMID camp in El Geneina. Heavy fire from several directions directed at UNAMID personnel killed four Nigerian peacekeepers and injured eight others.
On November 2, militia from the Berti and Bergit ethnic groups recruited into the government’s Popular Defense Forces (PDF) attacked and burned Sigli village near Shawa, North Darfur, killing 10 adult male civilians from the Zaghawa ethnic group and abducting at least one person. Local populations were reportedly displaced to IDP camps near El Fasher. The attack was in retaliation for an October 17 attack by the predominantly Zaghawa Sudan Liberation Army-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) on Abu Delek village in North Darfur, in which SLA-MM killed 14 PDF militia. The SAF denied UNAMID access to Sigili on November 3, but on November 6, a UNAMID assessment mission entered the village and found it deserted, with signs of abrupt departure, ammunition casings, and indications of destruction of housing and property, dead animals, and burned houses.
The Two Areas
SAF air raids resulted in civilian deaths throughout Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states. For example, aerial bombardments occurred in Kauda, Dilling, Talodi, Um Durein, and other parts of Southern Kordofan and throughout Blue Nile. On September 27, an air raid on Heiban, on market day, killed at least one woman and injured several others. According to the government, 633 persons have been killed in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states since the fighting began in June 2011.
SPLM-N fighters shelled civilian areas in Kadugli town in October. On October 8-10, the SPLM-N fired five rockets at Kadugli town, killing at least six civilians, according to government sources. In the same attack, two additional rounds landed but did not explode in the UNICEF compound in Kadugli.
On July 6, eight members of the ruling NCP were killed near Dilling, Southern Kordofan, when their convoy was attacked. Among those killed was Ibrahim Balandiya, speaker of the Southern Kordofan Legislative Assembly. It was unclear who was responsible for the attack.
On August 5, a World Food Program driver was killed in Southern Kordofan when the vehicle he was traveling in was ambushed. It was unclear who was responsible for the attack.
Abductions: On August 20, unidentified militia members abducted two Jordanian UNAMID peacekeepers in Kabkabiya, North Darfur.
On February 2, JEM released five Turkish water engineers in Wadi Howar, North Darfur, whom they had abducted in September 2011. The ICRC and Red Crescent organized the handover of the captives. At year’s end JEM held six Sudanese hostages.
There were reports of several instances of forced disappearances in the Two Areas conflict. For example, refugees from Blue Nile State reported abductions from the village of Khor Gidat in May. Most abductions involved physical abuse or torture. International organizations were unable independently to verify reports due to lack of access to the region.
Physical Abuse, Punishment, and Torture: All parties to the conflict in Darfur and in the Three Areas were accused of perpetrating torture and other abuse. The government abused persons detained after armed conflict as well as IDPs suspected of having links to rebel groups. There were continued reports government security forces, progovernment and antigovernment militias, and other armed persons raped women and children.
Sexual and gender-based violence continued throughout Darfur. Authorities often obstructed access to justice for rape victims. IDPs reported that perpetrators of such violence were often government force or militia members. Assailants assaulted, raped, threatened, shot, beat, and robbed women.
According to the UN, victims reported 94 incidents of rape from January through September. Radio Dabanga reported 14 incidents from October through December. In Darfur it was believed most rape victims did not report incidents; therefore, the actual number of rape incidents was likely much higher.
The UN reported that on August 23, in Kabkabiya, North Darfur, armed men raped three women and beat a man accompanying them. On November 12 in Tawila, North Darfur, three armed men raped a 17-year-old girl from the Rawandan IDP Camp.
NGOs and the SPLM-N accused the government of employing torture and violent tactics against civilians throughout the Southern Kordofan conflict, although specific incidents were difficult to verify due to the lack of international observers in the region. In May government-aligned forces arbitrarily arrested a student in Southern Kordofan and beat him in prison for several days before his father secured his release.
There were reports of physical abuse and violent interrogations of SPLM-N-affiliated individuals in Kadugli prison.
SAF and government-aligned forces reportedly burned and looted villages throughout Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Child Soldiers: The Armed Forces Act prohibits the recruitment of children and provides criminal penalties for perpetrators. However, eyewitness reports indicated most of the armed groups, including the SAF and Public Defense Forces, had child soldiers who engaged in conflict; the problem was especially serious in Darfur. Allegations of child soldiers in rebel or government-aligned groups in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile were not independently verified.
In 2011 the UN special representative of the secretary general for children in armed conflict (SRSG) reported 45 cases of recruitment or use of children by armed groups in Darfur, government security forces, government-supported armed groups, and rebel groups. This was a decrease from the 115 cases reported in 2010. The SRSG reported 52 cases in the Three Areas, an increase from eight in 2010.
Rebel groups associated with the SRF (JEM, SLA/MM, and Sudan Liberation Army-Abdel Wahid (SLA/AW)) and groups outside of the SRF umbrella (including the Sudan Liberation Movement for Justice and the United Revolutionary Forces Front), as well as various government security forces (including police), all continued to recruit child soldiers. In September JEM signed an agreement with UNICEF to ban the use of child soldiers, but there was no evidence this affected its recruitment activities. In November JEM informed the UN it had established a follow-up committee to implement its action plan.
According to the UN, the rebel group known as SLA-Historical Leadership is implementing an action plan to end its recruitment and use of child soldiers. The group reported to the UN in November it had proposed 120 former child soldiers for reintegration to the Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission.
Also in November UN representatives met with SLA/AW leaders in Uganda to discuss a proposed action plan to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers. The UN reported SLA/AW leaders agreed to consider the establishment of an action plan for implementation in areas under its control.
Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip.
Other Conflict-related Abuses: All parties to the Darfur and Two Areas conflicts obstructed the work of humanitarian organizations, UNAMID, and other UN agencies, increasing the displacement of civilians and abuse of IDPs. Violence, insecurity, and the denial of visas and refusal of access to international organizations reduced the ability of humanitarian organizations to provide needed services.
Despite the 2007 joint communique between the government and the UN, government forces frequently harassed NGOs that received international assistance. It restricted or denied permission for humanitarian assessments, refused to approve technical agreements, changed procedures, copied NGO files, confiscated NGO property, questioned humanitarian workers at length and monitored their personal correspondence, delayed issuance of visas and travel permits, restricted travel, and publicly accused humanitarian workers of aiding rebel groups.
In North Darfur insecurity forced humanitarian organizations to suspend operations at health care facilities. However, parts of Darfur, such as Jebel Marra and areas not under government control, were inaccessible to the humanitarian community. Even in secure areas, relief agencies faced increasing obstruction by the government, including new, arbitrary rules and regulations that undermined the delivery of relief assistance. For example, on September 15 members of the Darfur Joint Assessment Mission technical mission were delayed from travelling to Darfur due to a lack of travel permits.
UN agencies also experienced increased constraints regarding access. Police and government security forces frequently declined to provide escorts for UN agencies to areas affected by fighting, and at other times cited continued instability and restricted the movement of UN-sponsored fuel, food, and nonfood supplies to areas outside of major population centers. For example, the NISS in January informed humanitarian organizations in West Darfur that all movements in the area between Zalingei and Nertiti were suspended due to insecurity.
An estimated 1.7 million civilians remained internally displaced in Darfur, and approximately 290,000 refugees from Darfur remained in Chad. Between June 2011 and June 2012, the UNHCR verified 165,500 returns of IDPs and 39,500 refugees to Darfur.
Policy discrepancies between Darfur state-level and Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) officials in Khartoum adversely affected humanitarian operations. The HAC continued to require that NGOs refrain from interviewing or selecting staff unless they used a five-person government selection panel with HAC officials present, significantly delaying the hiring of new staff in Darfur. The HAC also continued to impose additional requirements on humanitarian organizations on an ad hoc basis, often at the state level.
Rebel forces and bandits obstructed humanitarian assistance, regularly attacked the compounds of humanitarian organizations, and seized humanitarian aid and other assets, including vehicles. Kidnappings and attacks on humanitarian convoys continued during the year. Instability forced many international aid organizations to reduce their operations in Darfur.
The Two Areas
The government permitted some international staff of UN agencies to return to Kadugli early in the year. However, access remained limited since the government denied any UN or international organizations access outside of government-controlled areas, citing security concerns in rebel-held areas.
In February the UN, AU, and League of Arab States, known collectively as “the Tripartite,” presented a plan for humanitarian access to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile to the government. In August the government and SPLM-N signed separate memoranda of understanding with the Tripartite accepting its plan. However, by year’s end the plan was not implemented.