The situation in South Darfur is proving to be a dramatic test of UNAMID's military capabilities. "Limited" military capabilities is really a more apt description. The UNAMID "hybrid" force (UN and African Union) has a base in Muhajeria. At the moment UNAMID is trying to protect civilians who have fled fighting in the region. UN officials claim that UNAMID will not withdraw its troops from Muhajeria, but the question remains -- does UNAMID have a rapid reaction force available that could handle a rebel attack ( or government and rebel-ally attack) on the camp or on refugee relief facilities? A UN spokesman said that approximately 30,000 people have fled their villages in the region, and 5000 are near the UNAMID camp.
February 3, 2009: The United States said that it was "gravely" concerned about fighting in South Darfur. The US statement said that 28 bombs were dropped by Sudan government aircraft on the town of Muhajeria in an attack early on February 3. The US statement indicates reports by JEM fighters and peacekeepers claiming that the government is conducting a sustained aerial campaign are accurate.
February 1, 2009: The UN reported that the Muhajeria region of South Darfur is increasingly chaotic. Essentially a "rebel against rebel war" has broken out between elements of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and a faction in the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA-Minnawi) that is aligned with the Sudan government. Inter-factional fighting isn't a new phenomenon, but the fighting in Muhajeria is proving to be very intense and prolonged. This round of combat began on January 15. Most of the rebel against rebel battles are short affairs -- raids, ambushes, etc. The Sudanese Army is also involved, fighting with, or supporting the SLA. JEM spokesman have accused the government of "indiscriminate" air attacks and UN officials in the area support the JEM claim that air attacks have been launched on villages and towns.
January 27, 2009: Government forces reportedly used artillery and air to attack JEM positions near the town of El Fasher (in Darfur). The UNAMID peacekeeping force is headquartered in El Fasher. One of the JEM positions is nine kilometers from the outskirts of El Fasher.
January 26, 2009: The UN called for an "immediate halt" of hostilities in Darfur. Heavy fighting is reported in South Darfur, where JEM forces have taken the town of Mujaheria from an SLA faction (reportedly the Minnawi faction). The JEM claimed that it was fighting a major battle with government forces northeast of Mujaheria. The government force was moving in 130 vehicles and had air support. There was no independent confirmation of the JEM claim.