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United Nations experts have urged Sudan’s neighbours Libya and South Sudan to stop supplying Darfur armed groups with weapons and ammunition in line with UN resolutions on this respect.
In a report to the Security Council released this week, a panel of five experts says that rebel groups from Darfur region ‘work as mercenaries’ with South Sudanese government and the different warring parties in Libya.
Regarding the restive north African country, the report point to the presence in Libya of the Sudan Liberation Movement of Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM), and the SLM-Transitional Council (SLM-TC) led by al-Hadi Idriss Yahia. While the Justice and Equality Movement of Girbil Ibrahim is present in South Sudan.
‘The presence and activities of SLA/MM, SLA/TC and JEM in both Libya and South Sudan constitute a violation by those States of the arms embargo, which requires States to take measures to prevent the sale or supply of arms and related material and the provision of assistance to Darfurian rebel groups by their nationals or from their territories,’ the expert said.
The 97-page report seen by Sudan Tribune is the first UN text with detailed information, official documents and pictures about the presence of the armed groups from Darfur region in Libya.
The report describes the SLM-MM as the biggest Darfurian rebel group in Libya operating with Libya’s eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army (LNA).
In a special annexe, the report says the group has ‘several hundreds of fighters and approximately 150 vehicles’, adding that the military leadership of the group present in Libya include SLM-MM chief of staff Juma Haggar, his deputy Jabir Ishag and other commanders.
However, the experts said that the military leadership of the rebel group is now more independent from its exiled leader and they are directly paid by Haftar’s army.
According to the experts, JEM which has a limited presence in Libya has recently realised that the situation in the north African country ‘offers more opportunities than South Sudan‘ and considers ways to be more involved there.
The report dedicates one of its annexes to the Sudan Liberation Forces Alliance led by Taher Hagar which is also operating in Libya.
The report which is mainly dedicated to the different effects of the situation in Libya on Darfur says that the role of mercenaries has gained significance because Libyan are wary of fighting and financially it is more beneficial for Libyan factions to engage foreign mercenaries.
‘If Libyans get killed during the conflict, their tribe demands blood money, which is to be paid by the Libyan faction responsible for the death. The concept of blood money is, however, not applicable to foreign mercenaries,’ the report says.
A Darfurian fighter is paid between $250 to $500 per month. Also, they have ‘ the option of receiving weapons and vehicles, in lieu of cash payment. Darfurian rebel groups have been demanding higher remuneration for some time, owing to the depreciation of the Libyan dinar,’ according to the experts.
The UN experts have recommended that the panel continues to monitor the presence and activities of Darfurian rebel groups in Libya and South Sudan. Further, they propose to ‘consider updating the sanctions list to include the photographs of three designated individuals and the passport details of one designated individual, and consider requesting INTERPOL to update its special notices accordingly’.
While focusing on the financing of different Darfurian armed groups and, regional stability the experts noticed that the arrival of a greater number of Darfurian migrants to Europ through Libya since 2015.
‘This trend would tend to suggest greater availability and better organization of the smuggling networks operating in the Sudan, Libya and Chad, which facilitate this journey,’ said the report based on interviews with humanitarian agencies in France and Italy.
The Darfur route via El-Fasher for migrant smuggling to Libya from Sudan, according to the report, has become an alternative to the Khartoum route via Dongola in northern Sudan. The smugglers, some of them are former rebels, use the same routes used by the armed groups.
Besides the human smuggling, the experts say the rebel groups in Darfur also make financial gains from the arms smuggling between Darfur and Libya.
They are ‘smuggling small arms from the Sudan to Libya. These groups are also smuggling heavy weapons such as anti-aircraft guns and anti-tank guns into Darfur from Libya,’ the report says.
In addition, the report says that Darfur rebel groups are also involved in the in the smuggling of fuel in tankers from Libyan port installations in Misrata and Zlitan into Darfur. The same for vehicles the armed groups ‘smuggled thousands of 4×4 vehicles from Libya to Darfur‘.