SUDAN WATCH: Sudan asks UNAMID to leave Muhajeria, South Darfur - Sudan preparing counter-attack on Muhajiriya, after losing it to rival JEM (Update 10)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Sudan asks UNAMID to leave Muhajeria, South Darfur - Sudan preparing counter-attack on Muhajiriya, after losing it to rival JEM (Update 10)

Sudan bombs rebel held town
February 2, 2009 report from Associated Press (CAIRO) - excerpt:
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told journalists in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa that the joint U.N.-African Union peackeeping force will remain in the town of Muhajeria and all sides needed to show restraint, urging rebels to pull out of the town.

"I urge maximum restraint on President Omar al-Bashir and have urged the Justice and Equality Movement rebels to withdraw from the city to protect innocent civilians," Ban said.

The spokesman for the peacekeepers, Nourredine Mezni confirmed to the Associated Press that government planes were bombing the outskirts of the town and some 5,000 residents were now taking refuge around the peacekeepers' compound.

JEM spokesman Ahmed Tugod said government planes were bombing the outskirts of the town Monday and asserted that his forces, which captured the town Jan. 15, would stay and fight government forces.
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Sudan bombs near Darfur town - peacekeepers
Mon Feb 2, 2009 2:39pm GMT Reuters report by Andrew Heavens in KHARTOUM - excerpt:
Sudanese planes bombed close to a rebel-held town in Darfur on Monday after the government asked peacekeepers to leave ahead of a planned assault, the international force said.

Thousands of civilians took shelter around a base run by the joint U.N./African Union force in the south Darfur town of Muhajiriya, a spokesman for the peacekeepers said.

UNAMID said Khartoum asked peacekeepers to withdraw on Sunday because the army was preparing to take the town back from Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebels, who seized it last month.

"But we are not going to leave while there are thousands of displaced people around our camp," UNAMID spokesman Noureddine Mezni said. "The Sudanese government should be aware that their actions are endangering civilians and UNAMID."

Mezni said mediators were trying to talk to the government and rebels to prevent fighting over Muhajiriya.

UNAMID officials said peacekeepers had reported bombing around 3 km (almost 2 miles) east of the town on Monday. No one was immediately available to comment from Sudan's armed forces.

Air attacks in Darfur are banned in U.N. Security Council resolutions, but Sudan's army has said it has the right to confront rebel forces who have not signed peace accords.

Mezni said the U.N./AU representative in Darfur, Rodolphe Adada, met senior government officials in Khartoum on Monday to try to negotiate an end to the crisis over the south Darfur town.

U.N./AU mediator Djbril Bassole planned to fly to neighbouring Chad to meet rebel leaders, he said. (Editing by Matthew Tostevin)
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Sudan mediators try to avert Darfur attack
Mon Feb 2, 2009 5:00pm by Andrew Heavens KHARTOUM (Reuters):
Mediators tried on Monday to avert a Sudanese attack on a rebel-held town in Darfur after the army asked peacekeepers to leave ahead of an assault, the international force said.

A spokesman for the U.N./African Union force said the peacekeepers were still in Muhajiriya and were concerned about the 30,000 civilians there.

U.N. officials said it was the first time Sudan had asked peacekeepers to withdraw from a town in Darfur.

The UNAMID mission is undermanned and under equipped while tension is escalating in Darfur ahead of an expected decision by International Criminal Court judges on whether to indict Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for war crimes.

UNAMID spokesman Nourredine Mezni said the U.N./AU representative in Darfur, Rodolphe Adada, planned to meet officials in Khartoum on Monday to try to negotiate an end to the crisis over the south Darfur town.

U.N.-AU mediator Djbril Bassole planned to fly to neighbouring Chad to meet leaders of the Justice and Equality Movement rebels, he said.

In Ethiopia for an African Union summit, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Sudan and rebel groups to stop all violence that threaten the peace process and civilians.

"I have called on the authorities of Sudan to use maximum restraint in this regard," he said.


UNAMID said Sudan asked the peacekeepers to leave Muhajiriya on Sunday and had now said it was planning an attack.

"The area would be a war zone and they told us we should not return until this is stabilised," Mezni said.

No one was immediately available to confirm the report from Sudan's armed forces.

Muhajiriya has been the centre of more than two weeks of fighting between government and JEM forces -- the worst violence in Darfur in a year.

JEM seized the town in mid January from former rebels who signed a peace deal.

JEM has not signed any accord with Khartoum and the latest fighting has cast a shadow over faltering peace efforts.

UNAMID and JEM officials said the situation was tense in Muhajiriya, but there were no immediate reports of fighting.

"An attack could be imminent," JEM commander Suleiman Sandal told Reuters. He said he was receiving reports from commanders close to the town, which is 80 km from Nyala, the capital of south Darfur.

International experts say 200,000 people have died in Darfur almost six years after mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms, accusing the government of neglect. Khartoum denies accusations of genocide from Washington and campaign groups.

Ban said Ethiopia had pledged tactical helicopters for the peacekeeping force but said the force still lacked 18 "utility" helicopters.

(Additional reporting by Daniel Wallis in Addis Ababa)
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Sudan warns peacekeepers to quit Darfur town
February 1, 2009 report from Reuters by Andrew Heavens - excerpt:
Peacekeepers on Sunday said Sudan's government had asked them to withdraw from a rebel-held Darfur town, amid reports state troops were preparing to attack the settlement.

The joint U.N./African Union UNAMID force said it was trying to convince Sudan to let its forces stay in the south Darfur town of Muhajiriya so they could continue to protect more than 30,000 civilians in the battle-scarred area.

Muhaririya has been the scene of more than two weeks of fierce fighting between Sudan government forces, troops from the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and other fighters.

JEM, which currently holds the town, told Reuters its commanders had reported four columns of Sudanese army troops, including one unit with tanks, were approaching the south Darfur town from different directions.

"We think they are planning a large attack," said JEM official Al-Tahir al-Feki. "Our main concern is for the civilians because they will bear the brunt of any fighting."

It was impossible to verify the report of the approaching troops independently and no one was immediately available for comment from Sudan's armed forces.

UNAMID spokeswoman Josephine Guerrero said the Sudanese government on Sunday afternoon asked a 196-strong contingent of UNAMID peacekeepers to withdraw from the town, but had not given a reason for the request.

She said the U.N. and African Union's joint special representative in Darfur, Rodolphe Adada, had flown back to Sudan from a conference in Ethiopia to try and persuade Sudan's government to change its mind.

"We are asking that so we can continue what we are doing which is protecting civilians," she said. The peacekeepers were still in the town early Sunday evening, she added.

Analysts said the fighting around Muhajiriya has been the worst violence the region has seen in a year. (Editing by Sophie Hares)
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Khartoum asks UN to withdraw from flashpoint town
February 1, 2009 report from AFP (Cairo) via Dow Jones - excerpt:
Sudan's government has asked U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur to withdraw from the flashpoint town of Muhajaria, the scene of clashes with rebels, the peacekeeping force said on Sunday.

"We received a request to withdraw from Muhajaria by the government of Sudan," Josephine Guerrero, a spokesman for the United Nations and African Union peacekeeping Mission in Darfur, or UNAMID, told AFP.

"This decision is not final because there are still discussions underway," he said.

Darfuri rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement seized the town two weeks ago from forces loyal to the Sudanese Liberation Army faction of Minni Minawi, the only rebel group to have signed a peace deal with Khartoum.

Sudanese troops shelled JEM positions near the town in response and JEM said it repulsed a convoy of 130 army vehicles and its air support.

UNAMID has about 190 people stationed in the town, out of 15,000 soldiers in Darfur. Click here for an updated version of the report.
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Sudan asks peacekeepers to leave Darfur town
February 1, 2009 report from Associated Press:
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia: Sudanese officials have asked international peacekeepers to leave a town in south Darfur so soldiers can attack rebels who took it over in mid-January.

U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission spokeswoman Josephine Guerrero says Sudan has asked UNAMID to clear out of the town of Muhajeria so Sudanese troops can launch an offensive against rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement, a powerful rebel group.

Guerrero said Sunday that senior U.N. officials will meet with Sudanese officials in Khartoum to discuss the issue. She said the request did not specify when the Sudanese government wanted the international peacekeepers to leave the town of around 30,000 people.
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Sudan Bashir discusses Chad relations with Libyan and Senegalese leaders
January 31, 2008 article (KHARTOUM) from Sudan Tribune Februrary 1, 2009:
The President Omer Al-Bashir discussed, with the Libyan leader and the Senegalese president the recent fighting in Darfur with the Justice and Equality Movement and the alleged Chadian support to the rebels.

In a series of meetings that he held at the sidelines of the NEPAD summit in Addis Ababa, Al-Bashir accused Chad of supporting the rebel JEM in its latest attack on Muhageriya location in southern Darfur.

Al-Bashir met on Friday January 30 and Sunday 31 with Muammar Gadhafi and Abdoulaye Wade. The two leaders brokered reconciliation agreement between the two neighboring countries, Tripoli agreement in Feb 2006 and Dakar agreement in Marsh 2008.

Ndjamena denied the Sudanese accusations and charged Khartoum of brokering the creation of a new alliance between the Chadian rebels to topple the government of the President Idris Deby.

Yesterday for the first time since a while, the website of the Chadian presidency said Sudan declared war on Chad and reaffirmed the readiness of its army to defeat any attempt to overthrow the President Deby.

Also Ahmed Hussein Adam the spokesperson of the rebel group Ahmed Hussein Adam, dismissed any participation of the Chadian army in the North and South Darfur clashes with the Sudanese army last week.

The rebel official said Khartoum accusations are not serious but only aiming at shift attention form Sudan plans to undertake a military operation to remove the Deby who is accused by Khartoum of supporting the JEM rebels.

"Our troops are operating inside Sudan far from Chad and do not need any external support," said Ahmed Hussein Adam, the spokesman of the rebel movement.

The Sudanese state minister for information Kamal Obeid told reporters that Chadian troops took part in recent attempt by JEM rebels to break out the siege of JEM troops in Muhajriya, South Darfur.

“Chadian forces from the Republican Guard entered Darfur with supplies and ammunitions to lift the siege imposed by the Sudanese armed forces on JEM troops” the Sudanese official said.
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USG Le Roy meets AU Commisioner for Peace and Security
From UNAMID (hat tip AllAfrica) Addis Ababa, 31 January 2009:
United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy met today with Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra, the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security at the AU Headquarters to discuss issues of mutual interest including the latest developments in Darfur and Somalia.

The two parties agreed to continue their close consultations and cooperation in the interest of peace and security in Africa.

Present at the meeting was the AU/UN Joint Special Representative, Rodophe Adada, who had held a working session earlier with Commissioner Lamamra to review UNAMID’s ongoing efforts to implement its mandate.

JSR Adada conducted a series of consultations with several delegations attending the 14th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the AU, including the Libyan Arab Jamahirya Secretary for African Affairs Dr Ali Triki, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Raymond Johansen, and the EU Special Envoy for Sudan, Torben Brylle. They all reiterated their continued support for UNAMID.
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Joint UN, African Union mediator for Darfur calls for end to renewed clashes
January 29, 2009 report from UN News Centre - excerpt:
The United Nations and African Union (AU) joint chief mediator for the peace process in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region today expressed grave concern over renewed combat in the southern part of the vast region, saying it undermines hopes for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

“The escalation of violence violates the spirit of the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement on the Conflict in Darfur of 2004 and constitutes a breach of various Security Council resolutions,” Djibril Bassolé said in a formal statement released in Khartoum.

Pointing in particular to military clashes involving the Government of Sudan, the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and another rebel group known as the Sudan Liberation Army/ Minni Minawi (SLA/MM), he called on the parties to cease fighting to minimize civilian suffering and create “a conducive environment for a political dialogue.”
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Darfur fighting displaces thousands of Sudanese, UN agency says
January 28, 2009 report from Bloomberg by Heba Aly - excerpt:
More than 9,000 people have been displaced in Sudan’s Darfur region as a result of aerial bombing and fighting in the past two weeks, the United Nations said.

Sudanese government aircraft have been bombing rebel positions near the northern state capital of El-Fasher and the southern town of Muhajiriya for the past few days, the UN-led peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Unamid, said in statements. Ground battles between government forces and rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement have also taken place in both locations, it said.

“The security situation in Darfur remains tense,” Unamid said in an e-mailed statement today. “The Unamid camps in Gereda and Muhajiriya, South Darfur, continue to face an increase in the number of civilians seeking refuge as a result of recent clashes.”

In the town of Muhajiriya, 3,000 people have gathered around the peacekeeping base seeking shelter and protection, Unamid said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. About 2,000 people fled their homes and have arrived in El-Fasher and in other places along the border between North and South Darfur states, according to Zeljko Nikolich of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Another 4,000 are on their way, he said by phone from El-Fasher yesterday. Nikolich said OCHA received the figures in reports that could not be verified.

Gained Territory

JEM claims to have made gains in the Darfur area since a battle in Muhajiriya on Jan. 15, after a battle which dislodged a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army led by Minni Minnawi. Minnawi’s faction of the SLA signed a peace accord with the government in 2006.

Government aircraft continued to bomb rebel positions today, Suleiman Sandal Hagger, JEM’s deputy chief of staff, said by phone.

“They are bombing here and there,” he said.

While Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir unilaterally declared a cease-fire in Darfur in November, Sawarmi Khalid, spokesman for the armed forces, later said the army had a right to defend itself against rebel attacks.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heba Aly in Khartoum via Johannesburg
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Condemnation of Darfur Bombings
January 27, 2009 U.S. Department of State Press Statement by Robert Wood, Acting Spokesman, Washington, DC:
The United States condemns the military activity carried out by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in North and South Darfur since January 22, as well as the incursion by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) into Muhajaria and other areas of South Darfur, which resulted in an increase of violence over the last week.

This fighting and subsequent Government of Sudan bombing campaigns have reportedly resulted in the deaths, injuries and displacements of civilians. The bombing campaigns in particular are a violation of the Darfur Peace Agreement, of the Government of Sudan-initiated ceasefire, and of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions on Darfur.

We welcome the statement by the Secretary-General condemning these hostilities. We demand that all parties to the conflict, including rebel movements, cease all violence and provocations in Darfur immediately, and commit to the peace process under the leadership of Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Yipènè Bassolé. 2009/083
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Fighting in Muhajariya, South Darfur, Sudan, forces MSF to leave population without sufficient care - MSF hopes to return soon
January 26, 2009 report from MSF:
"It is frustrating to be out of Muhajariya at a time where we can support the population, but we are trying to return and continue our medical care as before, as soon as the circumstances allow," explained Jose Hulsenbek, MSF's coordinator for operations in Darfur.

Following heavy fighting in Muhajariya, South Darfur, Sudan, on January 15 MSF has had to temporarily relocate most of its medical team to Nyala, the regional capital, an estimated 80 km away.

The team has learned that the MSF base in Muhajariya was completely destroyed by fire, however the MSF clinic remains functional.

"It is frustrating to be out of Muhajariya at a time where we can support the population, but we are trying to return and continue our medical care as before, as soon as the circumstances allow," explained Jose Hulsenbek, MSF's coordinator for operations in Darfur.

After the evacuation of MSF, more than 35,000 people living in Muhajariya and its immediate surroundings who are directly affected by the violence are now without sufficient and urgently needed medical assistance. MSF hopes to be able to return with a full team in the area as soon possible. MSF asks all parties to the conflict to respect humanitarian actors providing essential medical aid to the civilians.

Prior to the team's departure staff were busy treating wounded. There were 25 patients who were given urgent care, 18 of whom were treated for gunshot wounds. The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) assisted with the transportation of six of the wounded to Nyala Hospital for further care, upon the departure of MSF.

"When we had to evacuate, it was not clear, what would happen to the patients. In the end, for some of the injured a helicopter evacuation to Nyala was arranged and it was a relief for me, that they would get necessary treatment”, said Henrike Meyer medical doctor for MSF who was forced to leave Muhajariya. “If I had the choice, to stay or to go, I guess, I would prefer to stay with the patients."

A small team of Sudanese MSF staff remaining in Muhajariya continue to provide basic life-saving services. However, without surgical services, this is far from meeting the needs of the population. The security situation remains unclear. It is reported that most women and children have fled the town.
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JEM assault on Mahajeriya claims 47 lives, 80 injured
January 21, 2009 report from Sudan Vision Daily by Staff Writer:
Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) aggression on Mahajeriya village of South Darfur State was countered by forces of Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM)/Minawi faction. The clash claimed 47 lives and wounded 80 who have been transferred to Nyala hospital.

In a press conference he held in the State Capital, Nyala, Deputy Governor, Dr Farah Mustafa reported that the incident displaced some 200,000 people to Shaeria Locality.

Reporting Sudan Armed Force (SAF) non-intervention in the clash between the two movements over the said village, Dr Mustafa affirmed SAF capability to roll back any JEM attack on Mahajeriya.

Dismissing JEM control over any area in South Darfur, the Deputy Governor urged domestic and foreign NGOs to extend humanitarian aid to the affected civilians in Mahajeriya.
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SLM/Minawi withdraws from Mahajeriya, lest risking civilians
January 20, 2009 report from Sudan Vision Daily Khartoum- Alsammani Awadallah:
Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM)/Minawi Faction admitted withdrawal from Mahajeriya village, South Darfur, in favor of Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)/ Khalil Ibrahim Faction, claiming civilians protection against violence that might flare incase of confrontation with Khalil Faction.

SLM General Secretary, Ali Hussein Dosa, reported that, beaten by JEM elements, many civilians fled the area to UNAMID sites seeking security and tranquility.

In a statement to Sudan Vision, Dosa underlined that his faction would not resort to fighting of JEM as it focuses citizens' safety and stability as a priority. He speculated JEM withdrawal from Mahajeriya as a result of domestic and international condemnation it received on assaulting the said village.

Dosa further outlined in detail that, the representatives of Umma National, DUP and Communist Political Parties, that SLM met with, have denounced Khalil's aggression on M Mahajeriya, understanding that the step targets holding of more grounds before the upcoming Darfur peace talks, an aim announced by Khalil himself and reiterated by his spokesman Ahmed Tagad.

Affirimg that Khalil's move will be encountered by Darfur people, notable armed movements, Dosa assumed that Khalil attempt to overwhelmingly and exclusively control Darfur region will undermine the peace process, hence aggravates the suffering of the Darfurians rather than allowing him a positive position during peace negotiations.

For his part, Kenro Oshidari, Acting UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, said he is “deeply concerned” about the humanitarian situation in Muhajariya, where the town’s occupants are exposed to “levels of violence previously not seen.”
Civilians rushed to the peacekeeping base for protection during the fighting, UNAMID said Jan. 16.

At least 45 people died, 100 families were displaced and 150 houses burned, the Khartoum-based Sudanese Media Center said.
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Minnawi's SLA rejects JEM justification on Mahajeriya attack - UNAMID to investigate
January 18, 2009 report from Sudan Vision Daily Mona Al Bashir – Al Sammani Awadallah:
Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), led by Senior Presidential Assistant Mini Arco Minnawi, rejected the excuses given by JEM for its attack on Mahajeriya area in South Darfur.

"All know that these areas are under our control according to maps accredited by the Abuja agreement," said SLM official spokesman, Saifuldin Haroun.

SLM's rejection came in response to statements which were understood to be an apology by JEM for the attack which it contended was in self-defence.

Meanwhile, UNAMID said it is conducting an investigation on the clashes that occurred between JEM and SLA elements in Mahajeriya area, describing the situation there as tragic because it resulted into hundreds of the displaced seeking refuge behind the UNAMID troops posted near Mahajeriya.

The UNAMID spokesman, Nur Eddin Mezni, stated that the situation was still tense despite cessation of hostilities, adding that UNAMID had sent a force to the region to investigate the incidents. He revealed that UNAMID troops have received large numbers of the displaced who fled the region and sought protection of the peacekeepers. He alerted that a number of aid organizations have withdrawn from the region because of the fighting.

Mezni further enjoined the contesting parties to renounce violence which can only result in killing and destruction and seek to resolve their differences through dialogue. He revealed that intensive contacts have been undertaken by the Mission with the two conflicting parties with the objective of halting the clashes, saying that they have already started providing medical care for the wounded civilians and refuge for aid workers.

On his part, UNSG Ban Ki-moon slammed the clashes and called on the two parties to immediately and unconditionally cease hostilities.
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Sudan's JEM rebels take control of Darfur town: UN
January 18, 2009 (AFP) report from Khaleej Times Online:
Rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement have taken control of Muhajaria town in the western Sudan region of Darfur, the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission there said on Sunday.

JEM forces have been clashing with ex-rebels from the Sudanese Liberation Army faction of Minni Minawi, the only group to have signed a peace deal with Khartoum, which traditionally controls the area, UNAMID said in a statement.

JEM has "taken full control of Muhajaria, South Darfur," after fierce fighting that has led to additional suffering to the civilian population in the area," UNAMID said.

The UN's humanitarian coordinator in Sudan Kenro Oshidari said on Saturday the fighting has caused an unknown number of deaths and injuries after "levels of violence previously not seen in the town."

Peacekeepers have evacuated six critically injured people, UNAMID said.

An aid agency office has been destroyed and UNAMID peacekeepers are on the ground to protect the local population, the statement said, expressing "grave concern for the lives and safety of the civilian population."
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Thousands at risk as Darfur fighters prepare attack
January 18, 2009 report from Reuters by Andrew Heavens in Khartoum:
Darfur fighters who signed a peace deal with Sudan's government are poised to attack a strategic town, putting the lives of 30,000 civilians at risk, peacekeepers said on Sunday.

Forces loyal to Minni Arcua Minnawi, a former rebel leader who is now a special presidential assistant, were preparing a counter-attack on Muhajiriya after losing it to rival rebels last week, said the joint U.N./African Union mission (UNAMID).

At least 20 people were injured when Minnawi's wing of the Sudan Liberation Army clashed with the insurgent Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) on Thursday on the outskirts of the town in south Darfur.

A compound run by international aid group Medecins sans Frontieres was destroyed in the fighting and its staff were evacuated from the town, along with workers for French aid group Solidarites.

JEM at the time said it had taken control of Muhajiriya, seen as a stronghold of Minnawi who was the only Darfur rebel leader to sign a peace deal with the government in 2006. Officials from Minnawi's movement denied losing the town.

UNAMID on Sunday released a statement confirming JEM was now in control of the settlement, 80 km (50 Miles) from Nyala, the capital of south Darfur.

It added it had reports Minnawi's forces were regrouping for a counter-attack to regain control of Muhajiriya and that it had grave concern for the civilian population.

"Continued fighting between the two Darfurian movements could lead to a catastrophic humanitarian situation for the 30,000 residents and displaced civilians there," said UNAMID.
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Darfur Minnawi accuse countries of backing JEM
January 17, 2009 report from Sudan Tribune by Asil Ali (WASHINGTON):
The leader of the major Darfur rebel group to sign a peace agreement with Khartoum accused some countries of seeking to make the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) the major power ahead of expected peace talks.

“There is a joint conspiracy between JEM and some countries to make Khalil Ibrahim [JEM chief] get rid of any other factions in so he can become the John Garang of Darfur in Doha negotiations” Minni Minnawi leader of former rebel group Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) told Sudan Tribune by phone today.

“These countries are pushing Ibrahim to use force to become the main power in Darfur but this is impossible and will never happen” Minnawi stressed.

But the senior presidential assistant declined to name the countries backing JEM in this plan.

The Darfur rebel group has recently expressed dissatisfaction what they consider as being sidelined by the Qataris in their mediation efforts to bring the warring parties together.

A crisis erupted between Minnawi’s faction and the southern Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) after the former suggested that the latter is involved in the recent fighting and that they are providing diplomatic and political support to JEM.

However Minnawi later apologized to SPLM chairman Salva Kiir according to the pro-SPLM newspaper Ajras Al-Hurriya.

Minnawi’s statements come days after his forces clashed with JEM at the town of Muhageria in southern Darfur.

Both rebel groups claimed to have inflicted heavy losses on the other side during the fighting that displaced hundreds in the area according to UN peacekeepers

Minnawi sounding angry called on the international community to condemn what he described as “blatant aggression” by JEM.

“Muhageria has enjoyed stability and security for five years. They [JEM] have disrupted the livelihood of the people” he said.

“JEM must withdraw unconditionally from the area” the SLM leader added.

Sudan official news agency reported that Minnawi has flown to El-Fasher in North Darfur.

The former rebel leader accused JEM as being “the military wing” of the Islamist Popular Congress Party (PCP) led by Hassan Al-Turabi something which Khartoum has persistently alleged.

In May 2006, the SLM signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) with the Sudanese government and its head Minnawi was appointed as the senior assistant of the Sudanese president in August.

But Minnawi have expressed frustration with implementation of the DPA saying the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) is deliberately stalling it.
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SLM/Minawi declares to counter JEM in Mahajeriya
January 17, 2009 report from Sudan Vision Daily:
Secretary General of Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM)/Minawi, Ali Hussein Dosa, disclosed that a reconciliatory meeting was held yesterday between First VP and SPLM Chairman, Salva Kiir Mayardit and Senior Assistant to the President, SLM Faction Chief, Mini Minawi.

The meeting was convened with the background of SLM claims that SPLM did support JEM in its recent aggression on Mahajeriya.

Affirming removal of differences between the two movements, SPLM and SLM Dosa reported that tense situation exists in Mahajeriya, underlining his Faction readiness to counter and defeat any JEM assault as it did before in Haskanita. He presumed that JEM focuses region's control rather than peace realization or stoppage of bloodshed in Darfur.

In that respect, Dosa affirmed that SLM did not ask for any support for fighting JEM.

It is worth mentioning that a JEM force boarding 60 Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles attacked SLM strongholds in Mahajeriya, and Drafalsalam in South Darfur State recently.
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UNAMID protect civilians and aid workers after South Darfur clashes
January 15, 2009 report from Sudan Tribune (ELFASHIR):
Darfur hybrid peace keeping mission protected aid workers in southern Darfur and offered medical care to the civilians wounded following fighting between the former rebels and another rebel movement.

The location of Muhageria, a stronghold of former rebel Sudan liberation Movement led byMinni Minawi, witnessed fierce fighting today between the SLA-MM and the Justice and Equality Movement rebels.

JEM said inflected heavy casualties on Minawi troops but the Senior Presidential Assistant accused JEM of burning the town saying they attacked his troops and killed a large number of civilians.

"The UNAMID is providing medical care to injured civilians and offering shelter to aid workers after members of two rebel groups opened fire on each other in a South Darfur town today."

The local population began gathering around the UNAMID base for protection, it said.

The hybrid peacekeeping mission established a makeshift hospital at its base in Muhageria to treat the IDPs wounded amid the fighting between SLM-Minawi and JEM.

The UNAMID also helped evacuate staff from two NGOs, Médecins Sans Frontières and Solidarités, who are working in the region.

The two warring parties accuse each other of attacking the positions of the other. Also Minawi says Muhageria belongs to his group because they control it since 2004, but JEM says they

The peacekeeping mission further said it is investigating and monitoring the situation in Muhageria. It also added that the fighting had stopped.
See further updates at Sudan Watch Tuesday, February 03, 2009: Muhajaria, S. Darfur: JEM have deliberately placed themselves in areas of heavily populated by civilians (Update 1)


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