Darfuris leave Khartoum

I got a call from a good friend of mine living at the moment in Omdurman yesterday, who I haven’t seen in awhile, and in fact have been trying unsuccessfully to meet for weeks now.

He is from Darfur. In fact, he once suggested to me that his family and friends own most of Souq Libya, which (alarm bells ringing) has earnt something of a reputation for facilitating arms trafficking to the region.

So, one can imagine, that when the fighting in Omdurman broke out the other week (between the rebels and government forces), he might have been a little concerned as to how such an attack might reflect upon him and his community. Human Rights Watch, an organisation that I am not a big fan with, wasted no time in putting out a statement warning of the imminent dangers of government repression towards the Darfuri community living in Khartoum. I tried to set up a meeting with him immediately after the attack, to discuss his views on it, but this proved extremely difficult.

He now tells me some of his uncles are in gaol and a number of cousins. Maybe they were involved in the whole planning of the operation, or maybe they weren’t. But either way he is now looking for a cheap way to get to El-Fasher, which he has not been back to since he was a kid. He sounded pretty shaken, and said he just wanted to go to El-Fasher because he had some stuff to do there. But one suspects that it might also be a nice way of avoiding the attention of the authorities in Khartoum. It seems pretty logical that, in their ongoing investigations, they are going to be looking for dark-skinned Darfuris rather than the Arabs from the northern deserts.

I don’t really think my friend had much to do with the attack, although probably wouldn’t be sad to see this government go. However, such is the size of Sudanese families that it seems quite feasible that at least some members of his family had connections to the rebel movement in Khartoum (and therefore, by implication, him).

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