Home | Comment & Analysis    Saturday 14 February 2015

Insecurity in Darfur tempts African and Arab extremist movements


By Amira Khair

The internal conflicts , extremist movements and turbulent militias in several African states that neighboring Sudan have stirred significant concern that some of these extremist groups may find suitable opportunities to infiltrate through the western borders into Darfur which suffer from lack of security and disorder since the beginning of the current conflict .

In Libya for instance we find that the extremist Islamic groups , such as Ansar Alshria, Fajr Libya and their allied brigades from Misurata and other cities , are still able to maintain their power and military capabilities , and that they are still leading a fierce fighting in the eastern and western parts of Libya . These groups also maintains strong links with Al-Qaida and ISIS , a relation that make it easy for ISIS to launch its activities in Libya and acquire the ability to commit terrorist crimes .

With regard to the regions of west Africa Boko Haram group that is based in northern Nigeria is active in many west African states . The group has been able to expand its activities and to move to the border cities in the states neighboring Nigeria threatening as a result the security and stability of these countries. Since beginning of February 2015 Boko Haram carried out a series of attacks in the states of Niger, Cameron and Chad which indicates their massive activities in the region in order to fulfill their major objective and establish an Islamic state in Africa.

In Northern Uganda there exists of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) , which is also active in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Central African Republic. LRA is also considered a source of threat to the security in the whole region that it scares and frightens the people in the region through the kind of the horrible crimes it used to commit . It is notable that LAR is active in Kafia Kingi , a disputed area located between South Darfur and South Sudan, and the border areas between Darfur and Central African Republic

The activities of the extreme Islamic groups and movements in Libya and the other terror groups in Africa represent a significant threat to the western regions of Sudan , in particular if we consider that large numbers of people continue to flee their homes searching for more secure lands. This will be very obvious if we look at the figures of the displaced people in Darfur which increased from 80.000 in 2011 to reach the extremely high figure of 431.000 displaced person in the year 2014 , according to the report issued by the UN panel of experts in January 2015 . These figures reflect the amount of suffering faced by the displaced people, particularly when we take into consideration that the vast majority of these people are women , children and the elderly who reached the big cities in the region with total absence of the government, and international organizations that have been expelled by the government from the war torn region. The apparent consequence is the complaints voiced by the displaced people revealing that they suffer from lack of basic services, a problem that may result in catastrophic health and environmental impacts that may rapidly deteriorate and become uncontrollable with constant delay in the delivery of services.

With respect to other relevant threats that deserve to be considered is the presence of the extremist groups in Sinai peninsula that engage in fighting with the Egyptian army and represent a threat to the eastern part of Sudan . This part of Sudan was previously attacked by the Israeli air force under the claims that the region represents a gate through which arms and ammunition are passed to the extremist Islamic groups in Ghaza strip.

The borders between the states in this part of Africa extend over large areas of land and desert a matter that make it difficult to monitor and control. Also most of these states witnessed escalating disorder that resulted mainly from the activities of the extremist Islamic groups as the main party in these conflicts . This disorder will certainly lead to more deterioration in the security situation and consequently more violations against the international humanitarian laws including violations against human rights .

The panel of experts report also indicates the difficulty faced by the states of the region to control and monitor these borders , and in particular the borders that separate between countries such as Egypt, Libya , Sudan , Niger , Mali and other similar west African states. Therefore these borders provide the suitable conditions for the extremists to infiltrate into Darfur lands, that the movement of these elements between the states in the region is an easy task that can be secretly and easily accomplished.

Under these conditions Darfur is considered very vulnerable in the western parts of the country , it lives under fragile situations ,that it has been witnessing fierce armed conflicts since several years with huge human and material losses sustained throughout the war and continue to escalate with the war carrying on in the absence of serious and practical settlements .

Therefore Darfur is not immune in the face of the terrorist groups and movements and is apparently susceptible to easy and considerable infiltration of the elements of extremist Islamic groups particularly in the absence of the appropriate guard and monitoring of the extended desert borders that have become mostly controlled by pro-government armed militias.

On the other hand the incidents witnessed by Darfur and the current circumstances that dominate the region reflect a deteriorated security situation and an unprecedented disorder in the region, in addition to the failure and collapse of all the efforts exerted by the regional and the international bodies to achieve peace and permanently settle the conflicts , all these conditions create a suitable climate that tempts the terror groups to infiltrate into Darfur , and for this reason the situation requires all the concerned parties should double their efforts to arrive at a lasting sustainable solution for Darfur crisis and achieve the stability in a region.

The report issued recently by the UN panel of experts indicated clearly the constant violations that have been continuously committed against the human rights and the international humanitarian law including sexual assaults against women and girls and grave and serious violations committed against children rights . The report also reveals targeting of civilians and civil properties including international missions staff especially the members of international missions and the UNAMID .
The same report mentioned evidence of targeting civilians in a clear and systematic way by all parties to the conflict is. They carry out these kind of attacks on the pretext that certain villages or groups of civilian populations support one of the rival parties in the conflict .
The report reveals the details of the investigations that have been conducted into many incidents to prove that attacks have been systematically carried out against the civilians . It reveals the human and material losses sustained in certain incidents , and these kinds of raids indicate that the region is apparently suffer from complete absence of security and stability in all its parts whatever the party that dominates these parts .

It is clear that the methodology adopted to tackle the crisis will certainly lead to more deterioration in the stability and the security situations in the region . The people who live in Darfur and in the western parts of the country in general have no chance to feel that their life is secure and stable , and in particular those who live in areas that are distant from the major cities or in the desert locations or the roads that cross it . This is confirmed by the diversity and the large number of the arm groups whether those loyal to the government or the groups fighting it .

Some of these armed groups even went to the extremity that they established checkpoints on the major roads that link the different parts of the region , an action indicated by the report which reveals that these checkpoints are mainly used as a main and rich source of finance as they used them to control the movement of goods and vehicles .

It is important for the international community and the Sudanese government to take the appropriate steps to avert the occurrence of sudden and rapid developments as regards the presence of the Islamic extremists in Darfur and the threat of their infiltration in large numbers into Darfur lands . It is a huge responsibility that should be borne by all the parties to the conflict including the armed groups that fight the government . It is extremely crucial that all the parties should adopt positive and serious steps to protect Darfur and the whole country from the grave consequences that would result from the infiltration of these elements through the western borders in a way that may enable them to establish their camps, initiate their activities and acquire the ability to threaten the stability and the security of the state of Sudan .

The author is a human rights defender & gender justice advocate. She can be reached at marinedrive_4@hotmail.com

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