Shattaya – Clashes between Sudanese forces and residents of a Darfur camp for the displaced killed three people on Friday, the UN said, as President Omar al-Bashir urged reconciliation in the war-torn region.
Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on genocide and war crimes charges related to the Darfur conflict, is touring the region ahead of a US decision next month on whether to permanently lift a decades-old trade embargo on Sudan.
On Friday, residents of Camp Kalma in South Darfur protesting against Bashir’s visit clashed with government forces, with three residents killed and 26 wounded, the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said in a statement.
“I call upon everyone involved in this situation to restore calm as soon as possible,” mission chief Jeremiah Mamabolo said.
Camp Kalma houses more than 125 000 people displaced by the conflict, and as Friday’s clashes took place, Bashir addressed a gathering in a nearby village and vowed to back reconciliation efforts in the region.
“I want the world to hear that we are in Shattaya and we are with the people of Shattaya,” Bashir said in the village which saw pitched battles between government forces and rebels when the Darfur conflict erupted in 2003.
“I want to thank the people of Shattaya for their reconciliation, and we will continue supporting you until the last displaced person returns to his home and his farm.”
Global rights groups say that villages such as Shattaya were the scenes of war crimes and crimes against humanity when government forces launched their counter-insurgency operations against rebel groups.
The Hague-based ICC says Sudanese forces carried out “unlawful attacks, followed by systematic acts of pillage, on towns and villages, mainly inhabited by civilians belonging to the (African) Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa tribes” in Darfur.
The Darfur conflict began when ethnic African minority rebels took up arms against Bashir’s Arab-dominated government, accusing it of economic and political marginalisation.
The United Nations says the conflict has killed about 300 000 people and displaced more than 2.5 million, most of whom now live in large camps.
Khartoum says the conflict has now ended, and on October 12 US President Donald Trump is due to decide whether to permanently lift American sanctions against Sudan.