Khartoum — The Darfur Bar Association (DBA) said yesterday that it has been receiving several reports about the existence of women slave markets in North Darfur, but has not been able to confirm them. In a separate statement, the association reported that paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and affiliated gunmen continue to target Masalit leaders in the West Darfur capital El Geneina.
According to the “frequent reports” the DBA received in the past few weeks, women and girls abducted in war-affected areas, including Khartoum, are sold at markets in the areas of El Fasher, Mellit, and Malha.
The Darfur lawyers said in a statement on Tuesday that “the many statements and allegations vary in their claims and some of them are conflicting”.
The DBA “has thoroughly investigated the accurately and validity” of the reports and is still doing research into the existence of women slave markets in North Darfur, but so far “nothing has been found that confirms this”.
The Bar said it had received information from reliable sources about “Bedouin Arabs and militia members who entered Sudan during the war and participated in arbitrary killings, armed robberies, and abducting large numbers of women and girls”.
Relatives of women and girls who ‘disappeared‘ travelled to North Darfur to search for them. “There are reports of negotiations taking place in utmost confidentiality and secrecy between families of the abducted women and girls and the abductors, to release them in exchange for a ransom”.
Abducted women and girls have reportedly also been transported to settlements of Arab nomads.
The DBA further states that “it has not obtained any information confirming the existence of a direct relationship between the activities of these Bedouins and the RSF.
“It is likely that these Bedouins and members of armed militias [!] have come to the country from areas in the Sahara after learning that Sudan has become an easy prey for pillaging and plundering.”
The lawyers will continue to investigate the claims of “these heinous practices and human rights violations”,.
They strongly condemn “the ambitions of authorities that brought the country to this degree of deterioration”.
The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) network reported in June that they documented 229 instances of enforced disappearances. 15 of them were confirmed to be women and girls.
“However, we assume that the number is higher because many families are not reporting such incidents due to fear and stigma,” SIHA stated.
In a separate statement, the DBA reported that elements of the RSF and gunmen are still targeting Masalit tribal leaders in El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, who have been unable to leave the city so far.
“In the past days, they liquidated Sheikh Yousef and the director of the Urban Planning Department, Adam Ali. They abducted Ayman Arbab, son of Fersha Arbab Younes. The brother of rebel commander Mansour Arbab was abducted while he was on his way to the Chadian city of Adré, and killed.”
There are still numerous bodies lying in the streets and abandoned houses and buildings, people who recently fled El Geneina and arrived, like thousands of others before, in the Chadian city of Adré, reported to the DBA.
Volunteers of the International committee of the Red Cross are working to bury them “under difficult circumstances and conditions without burial aids or vehicles”.
The Darfur lawyers call for “the prosecution of the perpetrators of grave crimes described in international humanitarian law as crimes against humanity and war crimes, committed by the RSF and gunmen in West Darfur, and in particular in El Geneina, in light of the army’s failure to protect the people”.