January 10, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) issued a statement today confirming the eruption of tribal clashes in the restive region leading to an "undetermined" number of casualties and displacement of thousands of civilians.
- FILE - Darfur Tribal leaders in Khartoum (Reuters)
The heavy fighting that broke out last week between Rezeigat Aballa and Bani Hussein tribes was caused by a dispute over exploration in a gold mine in Jebel Amer area in North Darfur state.
North Darfur governor Osman Mohamed Youssef Kibir at the time that the situation was contained but later reports contradicted his assertions.
Some eyewitnesses said that death figures were in the hundreds though this number could not be independently confirmed.
"A row between some individuals has turned into battles ... Fighting is still ongoing," Omar Ali, a leader of the Bani Hussein tribe, told Reuters.
"It’s a tragedy. I don’t have numbers yet but I can say a large number of people have been killed and wounded so far" Ali said.
UNAMID said it sent a verification patrol to Jebel Amer but that it got stopped by Bani Hussein tribesmen and denied access.
The peacekeeping mission revealed that it mobilized its medical teams and flew three special flights to evacuated an unspecified number of injured people.
"In efforts to defuse tension the mission’s acting chief has held talks with the Governor of North Darfur and offered UNAMID’s assistance in helping humanitarian aid as well as mediation and reconciliation efforts," said the statement read by UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky.
Mahjoub Mohamed Saleh, a Sudanese columnist, wrote that the tribal fighting in Sudan have taken a dangerous turn with the utilization of heavy weaponry.
He criticized the government saying that it is resorting to temporary solutions with addressing the root causes.
"Ingaz [nickname of 1989 coup government] has adopted the policy of fragmenting tribal communities and politicizing local administration so good management was lacking, and positions were handed out on the basis of tribal affiliations" he wrote in Qatar-based Al-Arab newspaper on Friday.
"[B]ut this is an inevitable result of wrong policies and unfair practices, which is not restricted to this area, but these mistakes and these practices affect many areas causing explosions here and there and the root causes have political, security and economic dimensions and unless these are treated in one go these battles will threaten the security of the whole country" Saleh added.
This week separate fighting occurred in South Kordofan between three clans of the Arab Misseriya tribe killing more than a dozen people and injuring more others.