Photographs of the 5 August 2014 Assault on El Salam Displaced Persons Camp (outside Nyala, South Darfur)

Photographs of the 5 August 2014 Assault on El Salam Displaced Persons Camp (outside Nyala, South Darfur)

Eric Reeves

12 August 2014

UNAMID, the UN the U.S., the EU, the African Union and other international actors of consequence have remained silent about the attack against civilians in El Salam displaced persons camp, near Nyala (capital of South Darfur).  In the week since that attack, despite vivid reports from Radio Dabanga, and the images provided by a courageous photographer present during the assault, the silence has been deafening.  Nor is there any evidence that UNAMID plans to investigate this egregious violation of international law, despite having a very substantial presence just a few miles away from El Salam in Nyala, capital of South Darfur and the largest city in all of Darfur

Despite this shameful international silence, there can be little doubt that the accounts by Radio Dabanga are accurate (see below)—or that nearby Dereig camp for displaced persons has been attacked in the interim as well (see below).  Extraordinarily revealing photographs taken contemporaneously make clear ( that the intent of the attackers was to humiliate and intimidate unarmed camp residents—primarily women and children.  No weapons were found during the brutally callous search of the camp by regular military and security forces.  Still, innocent people were threatened, beaten, and robbed by the attackers.

Why has there been no outcry?  Can anyone imagine that such silence does anything but encourage the Khartoum regime to believe that its “new strategy for Darfur” is succeeding (Dissent Magazine, 8 October 2014)?  The all-but-announced goal of this “final plan” (one translation of the Arabic) is to make life in the camps intolerable, thereby forcing people to “return” to what were their lands (but are now largely lost to competing Arab tribal groups) and compelling the withdrawal of international humanitarian organizations.

UNAMID boasts in its most recent press release of its “ongoing efforts to protect civilians across Darfur” (  But no mention is made of El Salam or the countless other attacks on civilians, including those in displaced persons camps.  The grim but inescapable fact is that UNAMID cannot provide even a minimal level of security for more than small parts of Darfur at any one time.

Those attacking civilians in El Salam camp were numerous (Radio Dabanga cites a camp source who claims that 140 vehicles were used), and heavily armed.  Several photographs strongly suggest that child soldiers were among the attacking force.  The weapons that appear in these photographs are clearly meant to be used, and the men who wield them more than willing to do so.

Given international silence, we may be sure that they will be back, and will continue their assault on displaced persons so long as the international community remains so disgracefully without a voice of outrage.

       From Radio Dabanga:

Military raid on South Darfur’s El Salam camp     (EL SALAM CAMP, 5 Aug 2014) – A large military force stormed El Salam camp for the displaced in Bielel locality, South Darfur, on Tuesday morning. The army troops searched the camp and detained 26 displaced. “At 6:30 am on Tuesday, army forces in about 100 armoured vehicles raided El Salam camp,” Hussein Abu Sharati, the spokesman for the Darfur Displaced and Refugees Association reported to Radio Dabanga on Tuesday afternoon. “The soldiers searched the camp, treating the displaced in a degrading and humiliating way. They assaulted the people, treating them as suspects, and detained 26 camp residents. The market was pillaged, and the personal belongings of many displaced disappeared.”

According to Abu Sharati, the search for criminals, motorcycles, vehicles without number plates, and weapons in the camp, was done “under the pretext of the new emergency measures issued by the Governor of South Darfur State”. “But in fact the main objectives of this attack is terrorising the camp population, and the dismantling of the camp.” “Searches in this way constitute a violation of international humanitarian laws. They attacked the camp, beat and robbed the displaced, and pillaged the market. We do not know how many people were wounded yet. We are still are checking them, and inventorying the items missing.”

Abu Sharati said that the camp was still surrounded on Tuesday afternoon. He appealed to health organisations to treat the wounded, and called on the UN and UNAMID to “immediately intervene, and release the 26 displaced detained today.”

Kalma camp

Concerning the other camps neighbouring South Darfur’s capital of Nyala, Abu Sharati said that the Kalma camp management had received unconfirmed information that the South Darfur State authorities had decided to search the camp on Monday.  “Representatives of Kalma camp immediately informed the head of UNAMID in South Darfur State and the head of the UNAMID post in Kalma camp, and requested protection of the camp population. They told UNAMID that if there would be suspects in the camp, they were expecting that UNAMID police forces would investigate the matter, no one else.”

“So the South Darfur State forces attacked El Salam camp instead.”

Abu Sharati noted that “even if there were illegal activities in the camps, the authorities should inform the camp administration, who would seize the accused and deliver them to UNAMID police forces.”


Military raid on South Darfur camp ‘a farce’: Sheikh    (EL SALAM CAMP, 7 Aug 2014) – The displaced of Darfur hold the UN Security Council and UNAMID responsible for the military raid on El Salam camp for the displaced in South Darfur, at the beginning of this week.

In a statement to Radio Dabanga, the coordinator of the South Darfur camps said the attack on the El Salam in Nyala is contrary to the rules of displacement and the United Nations. “It is the UN and UNAMID’s responsibility to protect the displaced. The camps are not havens for criminality; people enter these camps because of the ravages of war.”

The leader of El Salam camp, Sheikh Mahjoub Adam Tabaldiya, confirmed to Radio Dabanga that a combined force consisting of security services, the army, and the police stormed the camp with more than 150 military vehicles, led by Abdel Rahman Gardud, Commissioner of Nyala locality.

Sheikh Tabaldiya termed the raid a farce. “When they entered the camp, they told the elders that they were searching for alcohol and drugs, but they were really looking for vehicles belonging to the armed movements, and families of rebels.

“The military force did not find anything, but arrested more than 75 people and took them to the military court in Nyala. As there was no proof against them, all but four were released.” Haroun Saleh, Yagoub Abdel Rahman Abdallah, Mahmoud and Saleh Abdallah are reportedly still in detention in Nyala.

Tabaldiya said that during the raid, 23 displaced people sustained various injuries as a result of beating and whipping. More than SDG 28,000 ($5,000) and 115 mobile phones were stolen by the raiders. The displaced approached Commissioner Gardud and the commander of the force, and pointed out the thieves. When the accused men were searched, they still had some of the stolen money and goods in their pockets.


Military raid on South Darfur’s Dereig camp     (NYALA LOCALITY, 11 Aug 2014) – On Thursday [August 7, 2014], a military force composed of more than 60 vehicles stormed Dereig camp for the displaced in Nyala locality and detained a number of displaced. In Girnei village, Central Darfur, gunmen imposed fees on the vendors on Saturday. A resident of the Dereig camp reported to Radio Dabanga that army officers told them that they came to search the camp for offenders of the new security measures.  She appealed via Radio Dabanga to UNAMID to provide protection to the displaced.

The Governor of South Darfur State on 15 July launched a number of “emergency measures”, in an attempt to combat the rampant insecurity in Nyala locality. [On 5 August 2014] a large military force raided El Salam camp, near the capital of Nyala, assaulted and robbed the displaced, and detained more than 75 people.

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