Sudanese in Israel watch in anguish as Darfur violence unfolds


Tel Aviv (Reuters) – Members of Sudan’s Masalit tribe in Israel are watching in torment as family and friends have been caught up in factional bloodshed in Sudan’s Darfur region that has sent tens of thousands of people fleeing into neighbouring Chad.

Residents have blamed violence, centred on the city of El Geneina, on Arab militias known as “Janjaweed” and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a faction that has been fighting the army in the capital Khartoum and other areas of Sudan since April 15.

“There’s no internet there but we still have connections to people who are telling us what is happening in El Geneina now,” Usumain Baraka, head of the Masalit tribe in Israel, told Reuters.

“The Janjaweed people are going home by home trying to open the windows and doors and killing people. Going from home to home asking, ‘Are you from the Masalit tribe?'”

Just over 5,000 Sudanese people live in Israel, mainly in Tel Aviv, dating to when brutal conflict escalated in Darfur from 2003.

At the time, Sudan’s government and the Janjaweed were accused of widespread atrocities as they acted to crush an insurgency by rebels complaining of discrimination.

Last week the United Nations raised the alarm over ethnically motivated targeting and killings of Masalit, who comprise the largest single community in El Geneina, amid fears of a repeat of the atrocities.

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Baraka said the community in Israel is collecting money to send to refugees in Chad so they can buy food, water and medicine.

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