Darfur’s Trends of Violence: UNAMID’s June 2009 Reporting
The incident statistics collected and verified by UNAMID for June show that harassment of UNAMID and international actors continues unabated. The general pattern of violence continues to manifest the characteristics of a low-intensity conflict, with a low level of confirmed fatalities amidst a generalized situation of insecurity.
Sixteen fatalities have been recorded in June. Twelve of these incidents are probably criminal in nature, the only association with the overall Darfur crisis being that the crimes sometimes occur in or around IDP camps. Three killings were reported by the residents of Kalma and subsequently confirmed, including one sub-sheikh in the camp. One further incident was the death of a boy who picked up an unexploded grenade which detonated, killing him. The majority of the violent deaths in Darfur during the month of June 2009 could hardly be linked directly to the ongoing conflict and are more characteristic of common crimes. The killings of one GoS National Intelligence officer, one SAF and one policeman are however more open to speculation, as they could have some connection with the conflict.
There is also one reported incident of homicide in the non-government held areas. As investigations are completed the data will be updated.
This is the lowest monthly tally of violent fatalities on record. Reasons for the continuing decline in lethal violence include the current lull in offensive military activities by the belligerent parties, the reduction in inter-tribal conflict consequent on stepped up local peacemaking activities, and the increasing effectiveness of UNAMID deployments throughout the three Darfur states. It is no coincidence that IDP populations are expressing better confidence toward UNAMID, thus making the interaction with them more productive.
Six cases of rape were reported, confirming that female IDPs remain vulnerable to harassment in and around the camps.
Eight vehicles were stolen at gunpoint, of which three belong to UNAMID, one to WHO, and four to NGOs.
Al Salaam remains a contentious IDP camp, with the conflicting presence of PDF and SLM-Minawi members likely to continue to fuel tension there.
Restrictions continue to be imposed on UNAMID movements and actions, by different armed elements. On numerous occasions these obstructions are carried out in intimidating manner, and might be incited by what is perceived as a lack of consistent reaction from UNAMID side. Those restrictions range from preventing UNAMID from holding meetings/workshops and confiscating UNAMID funds, to delaying/denying access at checkpoints. Examples include: Wada’a, North Darfur, 4 June; Babun-Shagil, North Darfur, 21 June; Kutum, North Darfur, 24 June; Kuma, North Darfur, 28 June; Abou Dam, South Darfur, 29 June.
In the same vein, banditry against UNAMID seems to be a low-risk operation for the perpetrators. The attack on a UNAMID Formed Police Unit convoy in the vicinity of El Geneina camp is the latest example. The current deployment phase of a Chapter VII operation has never been meant to be a context whereby UN assets and personnel would be consistently targeted while wrongdoers are able to roam unhindered. UNAMID is working on improving its response to criminal attacks of this nature. The image and credibility of the Mission will be improved by a prompt and vigorous reaction to such situations.
Moudjib Djinadou is head, UNAMID Joint Mission Analysis Centre, al Fashir.