South Darfur: Mershing's entire population of 55,000 fled to Menawashi after raids by Janjaweed
Here we are in February 2006, still filing reports of Janjaweed attacks affecting tens of thousands of Darfuris, mostly defenceless women and children.
Yesterday, exhausted internally displaced Darfuris were building ramshackle shelters in a dry river bed after 55,000 fled a raid mounted by Janjaweed gunmen reports David Blair, Telegraph correspondent in Menawashi, South Darfur 4 Feb 2006. Excerpts:
The flight took place as President Omar al-Bashir was assuring 53 African leaders gathered for a summit in Khartoum of his desire for peace in Darfur.
Evidence suggests that Sudan's security forces colluded with the Arab raiders.
The first assault took place around noon. Abdul Majid Hassan, 28, was herding cattle with his brother, Tibin, 30, when five Arab gunmen approached on horseback.
Photo: The Janjaweed
"They said, 'Give us your cattle,' " Mr Hassan said. "I told Tibin, 'Give them our cattle to save our lives.' But my brother refused. The Janjaweed raised their guns and I ran."
As he fled, Mr Hassan heard a burst of automatic gunfire. He turned to see that his brother had been shot.
"I went back and found him lying on the ground. There was a bullet in his back. He said, 'I know I am dying. I ask one thing, please take care of my family.' "
Photo: Arab militiamen, known as Janjaweed, said to be responsible for much of the ethnic cleansing and herd raiding in Darfur, check on their cattle. (Photo by Ron Haviv/Courtesy UNICEF. Sudan Watch archive 3 Oct 2005)
About 400 Janjaweed gunmen raided a refugee camp in Mershing, riding among the shelters, beating up or firing on anyone who crossed their path. They returned about eight hours later, attacking the town and looting the market.
Mershing's entire population of 55,000 fled the next morning to Menawashi, 10 miles away. Panic-stricken refugees stampeded, trampling to death about 13 infants. Another 220 children disappeared during the flight.
The surviving members of Tibin Hassan's family had been forced to flee once before when the Janjaweed destroyed their home village in 2004.
Keltoum Adam Ibrahim, 25, was also fleeing with her five terrified children for the second time. "I went to Mershing because I thought the government is there, the police are there, they will protect us," she said. "Now I don't trust them. I saw the police sitting and eating with the Janjaweed before they attacked us."
All the refugees in Menawashi are black Africans, and the Arab-dominated regime views them with deep suspicion.
Evidence suggests that the Janjaweed were unleashed to clear the black Africans from a strategically vital road. Paramilitary police were seen talking to Arab gunmen.
Jan 26, 2005 Terrible things are happening today in Darfur - renewed fighting last week uprooted more than 9,000. 8,000 fled to nearby Menawashi and 1,250 to Mershing, both in South Darfur state.
May 3, 2005 ABC's Interview with Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal in Sudan
May 8, 2005 Janjaweed leader preaches peace in Darfur - Some Darfur tribes agree local settlement
Photo: Musa Hilal - Arab tribal leader and 'leader' of the Janjaweed
Jan 24, 2006 Sudan's SLA rebels launch attack in Golo, West Darfur
Jan 25, 2006 Splintering of rebel groups? Nur's forces captured aid workers? UN helicopter crashes near Golo, West Darfur
Feb 1, 2006: South Darfur: Janjaweed attack IDP camps Kele, Silo, Tege, Um Gozein, Ton Kittir - Mass exodus from Mershing - Joint Sudan/AU forces to patrol?
Feb 1, 2006 Southern Sudan's SPLM/A and SSDF provoke attacks on Yuai, Central Upper Nile
Feb 1, 2006 6,100,000 IDPs in the Sudan - 770,000 fled elsewhere
Feb 2, 2006 AU says no evidence Sudan backing Chadian rebels
Feb 3, 2006 New Janjaweed attacks force more Darfuris into Chad camps
Feb 3, 2006: AU says SLA attacks in Shearia and Golo provoked Sudanese forces and prompted reprisal attacks by Janjaweed
Photo: Chad's camel guards patrol on the Sudan-Chad border in Abulu Kore (Darfur), Eastern Chad, in 2004. (AFP/Thomas Coex/Yahoo - Sudan Watch archive 28 Sep 2005)
Labels: David Blair