Land disputes have arisen between inhabitants of the Blue Nile and West Kordofan states. In addition, political and social affairs in Sudan have worsened over the past year following the anti-coup protests in October 2021 and the country’s subsequent suspension from the African Union.
Decades-old land disputes in the Blue Nile and West Kordofan states left unresolved by the central government have developed into brutal violence. Opposition in the ruling party has been accused of supporting and arming rival communities. Officials have reported that approximately 230 villagers have been killed in the Blue Nile state, and more than 200 have suffered injuries.
The Guardian reports that the health minister in the southern state, Gamal Nasser al-Sayed said that the attacks had displaced more than 30 000 people in the eight villages in the Wad al-Mahi area. “Many women and children walked for several hours to reach safety in the cities of Damazin and Roseires, on either side of the Blue Nile River,” The Guardian added. Clashes between the Hausa and members of other groups occurred around Wad Al Mahi, near Roseires, about 500 kilometers south of the capital, Khartoum. The Funj ethnic group villages have accused the Hausa.
These kinds of violent clashes happened previously three months ago. Then, many members of the Hausa were attacked and killed for attempting to establish their traditional leadership but were opposed by the Funj, who believe they’re the region’s indigenous group. As a result, the Hausa felt discriminated against.
Medical reports stated that by the 20th of October, about 150 people had died in two days. “A total of 150 people, including women, children, and elderly were killed between Wednesday and Thursday,” said Abbas Moussa, head of Wad Al-Mahi hospital. “Around 86 people were also wounded in the violence. Weapons have been used and houses burned.”
“It’s just heartbreaking seeing all these children and their mothers [who] had to walk for hours to take shelter at schools here. Many of them are sick with malaria and we had to ask people for donations of mosquito nets; as a ministry, we do not have enough resources to get them,” al-Sayed commented.
A witness reported that attackers were armed with cleavers, chopped a victim in their village to pieces, and torched their homesteads. We have nothing left, had to just go,” the witness said. Another victim spoke about how people took their children and fled, fearful for their lives, in search of safety. “Some people went missing; we don’t know what happened to them. We just took our children and left. Some families shattered between different camps,” the witness recounted.
Abdelaziz al-Hilu, the current chairperson of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, blamed the government for the resurgence of violence. “All these incidents are taking place in territories that are controlled by the government in Khartoum. It has nothing to do with us,” he said, renouncing any event involvement. “It’s not new for the government to do so. They have been doing this in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains, and now in the Blue Nile state. They armed all these tribes.”
Al-Sayed further added that the government had the foresight and that there were signs, yet they refused to act on them, thus preventing the clashes from even happening. Two months after the July clashes, Seven people were killed and 23 injured as tribal violence flared in Blue Nile state. “They came very late after all this death and misery. A lot of women are now in the hospital with third-degree burns on their bodies and forever scarred at this young age,” he sympathised.