Khartoum — A new report argues that the Sudanese government’s struggle for control of Darfur’s gold resources, rather than inter-tribal conflicts is behind the recent surge in violence in the war-torn western region.
The report, titled Darfur’s Gold Rush: State-Sponsored Atrocities 10 Years after the Genocide, has cast doubt on official rhetoric from Khartoum that tribal rivalries are to blame for rising instability.
It found that the Sudanese government is complicit in a violent power play for control of North Darfur’s lucrative gold mines, as part of its heightened economic interest in the region and an ongoing campaign of “state-sponsored atrocity”.
According to the report released earlier this month by the US-based Enough Project, Arab Abbala tribesmen are being armed by Khartoum as part of a bid to wrest control of gold fields in Jebel Amer from the Beni Hussein tribe, who are the traditional custodians of the area.
“While we do not have documented evidence that the government of Sudan ordered the Abbala offensive, it’s clear that the historically state-aligned tribe, with ties to the janjaweed, was not acting without at least tacit government consent”, researchers noted.
The escalation of violence since January 2013 has plunged the region into the worst humanitarian crisis in recent years.
The UN estimates that some 150,000 people have been displaced following a spate of attacks by armed Abbala militias, elements of which include the notorious janjaweed forces, which hit the headlines 10 years ago for brutal atrocities allegedly committed at the behest of the Sudanese government.
The report argues that Khartoum has again reprised the role of Abbala militia as a “tool of state repression”, suggesting the government is employing the same “paralleling tactics” it used during the height of the conflict in 2003-04.
“For over a decade, the government of Sudan has pursued a strategy of economic plunder of the periphery through violence and forcible demographic change”, the report said.
A sedentary farming and cattle-rearing Arab community, the Beni Hussein have historically been exempted from attack by state-sponsored militias. However, the recent discovery of gold reserves in their home area, and intense economic pressure on the Sudanese government following South Sudan’s secession and the subsequent loss of oil revenues, has fundamentally altered that dynamic, the report said. allAfrica