Conflict in Sortony
On 15 July clashes erupted in Sortony between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)/El Fuka faction against SLA/Abdel Wahid (AW)—who had taken control of the area from SLA/El Fuka following the withdrawal of the United Nations – African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) in April 2021. Reportedly five internally displaced persons (IDPs) were killed, an unknown number were injured, and around 65 IDP houses were burnt. SAF took control of Sortony on 18 July.
Local sources report that most of the IDPs in Sortony fled into the surrounding mountains while some fled to Wasat (Central) Jabal Marrah and Shamal (Northern) Jabal Marrah localities in Central Darfur State, leaving behind the sick and elderly. There are reports of women and children returning to the gathering site.
Health, nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene services are also currently unavailable. People are using rainwater or water from an open well near the camp following the theft of a generator used to pump water from Kobe, which is the main water supply to Sortony. The Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) is planning to carry out food distributions in Sortony on 5 August.
During the clashes between 15-19 July, one WFP rub hall in Sortony was hit by bullets while another rub hall was looted of non-food items and food aid. Clearance for an inter-agency mission to Sortony has yet to be provided.
Sortony IDPs arrive in Central Darfur IDPs from Sortony have started arriving in Central Darfur. An inter-agency mission visited Golo and Sabanga in Central Darfur’s Shamal (North) Jabal Marrah locality to assess the needs of the displaced people.
According to community leaders between 17 Julyand1 August a total of 616 families arrived from Sortony (about 3,500 people) in Sabanga (227 families), Dongola (35 families), Campogarna (17 families), Diankero (33 families), Campo Zaghawa (27 families), Kormi (53 families), Toga (17 families), and Boulay (207 families). They also said that an additional 584 families are on their way to Central Darfur. Most of them are reportedly hiding in caves in the mountains and are expected to arrive in Sabanga or Golo in the coming days. Priority humanitarian needs are food, shelter and non-food items and health assistance. Rains will hamper the movement of humanitarian convoys so any assistance should be delivered in Sabanga immediately. Protection and gender-based violence interventions are needed. The displaced community reports that 105 children from Sortony are missing/separated from their families. Youth are also vulnerable as they are at risk of being killed, arrested or detained by different armed groups in the area.
Between March and May, armed conflict has displaced 2,000 families in Jabal Marrah. In late March, an attack in Burgo village temporarily displaced people to Fanga Suk in Central Darfur. In the same period, an attack north of Rokero in Shamal (North) Jabal Marrah locality, led to short-term displacement. These families have reportedly returned to their farms. In May, an attack at Rofotta and Burgo villages, led to another wave of displacement around Fanga Suk.
Background on Sortony gathering site
The Sortony gathering site is anarea withinKebkabiyalocality in North DarfurState (about 52 kilometers southeastof Kebkabiyatown) where people fled conflict in 2016 between government forces andSLA/AW in the JebelMarra area of Central Darfur. The people settled arounda UNAMID team site. At the time there were no existing facilities and services in the area or a host community that the IDPs could count on for support.
The IDPs in the Sortony gathering site were initially displaced in 2003/4 from villages outside Sortony and parts of North Darfur to Jebel Marra in Central Darfur, where they settled for many years. Between early January 2015 and the onset of the rainy season in June 2015, a military offensive around Jebel Marra in Central Darfur led by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) aimed at uprooting SLA/AW escalated leading to a second displacement of the IDPs from 91 villages across south and central Darfur’s Jebel Marra region.
The gathering site including the surrounding 21 villages has an estimated population of 30,200 people (WFP) primarily from two main ethnic groups the Fur farming community constituting75 per cent, andArab nomads (includingNawaiba, Rizeigat, andGelol living in the surrounding areas) constituting 25 per centof the total population.
The security landscape in the Sortony area is intricate, with the presence of SLA/AW, Sudan Armed Forces, SLA/El Fuka—who signed a peace agreement with the Government of Sudan in 2016—and armed nomads. This complex web of armed groups, communities and military has made the security situation inSortonyhighly volatile and a climate of fear and uncertainty. Since January 2016, the UNAMID team site had provided protection to civilians residing inSortony but since the site was handed over to authorities in April 2021, there have been major protection concerns among the displaced community. There are no rule of law institutions in Sortony with the closest institutions located in Kebkabiya, 52kilometers away.