At least 43 people have been killed in days of fighting between herders in Sudan’s western Darfur region that has also seen more than 1,000 homes set on fire, the United Nations said Thursday.
The violence broke out on November 17 between armed Arab herders in the rugged Jebel Moon mountains close to the border with Chad, said Omar Abdelkarim, Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commissioner in West Darfur state.
“Initial reports indicate that at least 43 people have been killed, 46 villages have been burned and looted, and an unknown number of people were injured due to ongoing fighting,” according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA.
The majority of the 4,300 people affected by the violence have been displaced, it said.
Abdelkarim said some had fled west and were seeking safety across the border in Chad.
West Darfur governor Khamis Abdallah said the violence was sparked by “a dispute over camel looting,” and that “military reinforcements have been sent to the area and the situation has stabilized”.
The Jebel Moon mountain area is largely inhabited by communities of farmers and animal herders, with an estimated population of around 66,500 people.
Darfur was ravaged by a civil war that erupted in 2003, pitting ethnic minority rebels who complained of discrimination against the Arab-dominated government of then-president Omar al-Bashir.
More than 300,000 people died and 2.5 million were displaced during the conflict, according to the UN.
Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide in Darfur, was ousted and jailed in April 2019 after mass protests against his three-decade rule.
While the main conflict in Darfur has subsided, with a peace deal struck with key rebel groups last year, the arid region has remained awash with weapons and violence often erupts over land, access to agriculture, or water.
A UN peacekeeping mission ended its mandate in Darfur last year.
The latest clashes come against a backdrop of political turbulence, as Sudan reels from the aftermath of a military coup last month that drew wide international condemnation and sparked mass protests.
On October 25, top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan overthrew the country’s post-Bashir transitional government and detained the civilian leadership.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was freed from effective house arrest and reinstated, after signing a deal with Burhan that was viewed by critics as “whitewashing” the coup.