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Years Following militia raid, Anxiety still grips Darfur village

Last updated on October 18, 2019

Sudanese farmer Suleiman Yakub vividly recalls the day he had been suspended from a tree and left to perish by Arab militiamen who assaulted his village in Darfur, killing, looting and burning.

“I was handcuffed and hung from a tree with a rope around my throat, but I lived,” he explained, revealing the scar on his throat. “We don’t feel secure.”

Khartoum responded by unleashing the Janjaweed, a group of largely Arab raiding nomads it recruited and armed forces to make a militia of gunmen that were mounted on horses or camels.

They’ve been accused of employing a scorched earth policy against cultural groups suspected of supporting the rebels, killing, murdering, looting and burning villages.

The effort earned Bashir and many others arrest warrants in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Countless peacekeeping troops out of a combined UN-African Union assignment were set up in 2007 to suppress the battle, but their numbers were gradually decreased since mid-2018 since the battle has escalated.

Most Shattaya residents, such as Yakub, have started to come back to their houses, made from mud-brick and thatch, later residing in thickly populated camps for several years.

Their village was among those who confronted the brunt of this assault ravaged by the Janjaweed from the first years of the battle.

  • Vow to deliver peace –

Bashir was ousted by his military in April after weeks of nationwide protests against his iron-fisted principle of 3 years.

But tensions remain over property possession in Darfur, and people accountable for its war’s darkest years have yet to be brought to justice.

Sudan’s new governments who came to power after Bashir’s overthrow have pledged to end the conflict in Darfur in addition to the countries of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

After over 15 decades, the brutality unleashed on Shattaya, whose inhabitants are primarily in the African American Fur tribe, remains evident.

Most homes in Shattaya are seriously damaged and charred, with residents who’ve returned dwelling in make-shift lands, an AFP correspondent who visited the village reported.

Villagers complain that armed guys continue to be in the region, which lands confiscated by Arab pastoralists have yet to be returned.

“We’ve not got our farm back,” explained Mohamed Izhak, 29, who asserts his family possessed an orange and lemon orchard on the outskirts of this village.

Izhak returned into Shattaya this past year, after residing in a camp for decades with tens of thousands of thousands of individuals displaced from the conflict.

-‘We’re fearful’ –

Izhak said his dad, two brothers, and three uncles were murdered in the 2004 assault.

“We do not feel secure, even today‚Ķ we are not able to construct houses that are proper, we’re living in tiny shelters made from vinyl and sterile grass.”

Haj Abdelrahman, 63, resides in an area that survived the devastation of his house.

When he returned to Shattaya, he discovered Arab pastoralists inhabiting his family.

“The farm is ruined, they’ve cut the trees,” Abdelrahman told AFP, adding that he had been cautious of speaking into the pastoralists” since they’re armed”.

“They aren’t stealing our possessions anymore, however, if they aren’t disarmed we won’t feel fully protected. Also, we need our land back”

Most villagers are planting veggies just outside what’s left of the homes, hoping that one day they’ll receive their farms back.

“I’ve my farm away from the village, however, I can’t go there since I don’t feel secure,” Siddiq Youssef told AFP.

“If these militiamen aren’t disarmed, then we can not have peace. We’re fearful even today if we see them”