Darfur: Sharp Increase in Lethal Violence
May 2010 saw the largest number of recorded violent fatalities in Darfur since the arrival of UNAMID in January 2008. According to the figures compiled by the Joint Mission Analysis Centre (JMAC), there were 491 confirmed fatalities and 108 unconfirmed but very probable fatalities during the month, about five times higher than the average for the last year.
The reason for the increase in violence is fighting between JEM and the Sudan Armed Forces, which accounts for 440 deaths. At the time of the ceasefire agreement signed in N’djamena in February (and subsequently in Doha), JEM was required to relocate inside Darfur and joint Sudanese and Chadian forces began patrolling the border. A large and well-equipped JEM force established itself at Jebel Moon. The ceasefire lasted two months, and after it collapsed, with no additional progress in the Doha talks, the fighting rapidly resumed, alongside GoS efforts to prevent Khalil Ibrahim from returning to the field. Unwilling to fight defensively, JEM preferred to go on the offensive. It was forced out of Jebel Moon and instead dispersed across Darfur and into parts of Kordofan, taking the war to these areas. The largest number of clashes has been in south-east Darfur but JEM has also been active in the vicinity of al Fashir.
Reports indicate that JEM has made alliances, possibly tactical and operational, with the SLA in Jebel Marra and with disgruntled Arab groups.
JEM forces have also been responsible for an upsurge in carjacking, capturing 13 vehicles. Among them were UNAMID supply trucks carrying fuel and other provisions. Cut off from its Chadian supply base, JEM is now resupplying itself from whatever resources it can find in Darfur and Kordofan, and UNAMID supplies are an attractive target.
Even without this, May would have been an above-average month for lethal violence, because of an increase in inter-tribal fighting in West Darfur, which caused 119 fatalities (monthly total for inter-tribal fighting: 126). The previous two months have actually seen even higher levels of inter-tribal violence, including fighting in the Kass-Jebel Marra area between the Missiriya and Nuwaiba Arab tribes. The repercussions of the collapse of the Suq al Mawasir pyramid scheme in al Fashir also have security repercussions, first in that the angry defrauded investors have been mobilizing to make their case to the authorities, and second in that commanders of armed groups had been profiting from the scheme and are now left without that source of easy income.