II Murahaleen Raids on the Dinka, 1985–89




Successive Sudanese governments have used proxy forces, so-called militias, as an integral part of their war with the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). The Rizeiqat and Misseriya of South Darfur and South Kordofan created armed bands, known as Murahaleen, in order to raid cattle from the Dinka to their south. Massive raids have depopulated swathes of territory south of the Bahr al-Arab, killing tens of thousands of people and leading to the destruction and displacement of unknown numbers of others. Famine in western Sudan fuelled the early raids, but the scale of the devastation wrought from 1985 onwards was the result of government complicity and assistance. More recently, since the coming to power of the current military government in Khartoum in June 1989, the relationship between the army and the Murahleen has been formalized through the creation of Popular Defence Forces.