The UN Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) said on Thursday it was “appalled and deeply shocked” at the killing of the Governor of West Darfur, calling for a halt to the spiralling violence and for those responsible to be brought to justice.
In a statement, UNITAMS strongly condemned the killing of Khamis Abbaker who just hours earlier on Wednesday, according to news reports, had publicly blamed the deaths of civilians caught up in the violence stemming from the military power struggle across Sudan, on the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
“Compelling eyewitness accounts attribute this act to Arab militias and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), even though the RSF communicated a denial of their involvement to the mission”, UNITAMS said.
‘Vortex of hate speech’
“The UN Mission in Sudan calls for the perpetrators to be swiftly brought to justice and the cycle of violence in the region to not expand further. We appeal to the wisdom of the Sudanese people not to be drawn into the vortex of hate speech and ethnic polarization.”
Fighting between the rival militaries – the RSF and the national army – has left thousands dead or injured since 15 April and displaced some two million people.
Earlier this week, the head of UNITAMS Volker Perthes said that in West Darfur’s capital El Geneina, there was an emerging pattern of “large-scale targeted attacks against civilians based on their ethnic identities, allegedly committed by Arab militias and some armed men in Rapid Support Forces uniform”.
UNITAMS said Mr. Abbaker had been “a key interlocutor in the region” who was one of the signatories of the Juba Peace Agreement in 2020, which paved the way for the transition period towards democratic rule following the ouster of Omar al-Bashir.
‘Address the growing ethnic violence’
UNITAMS strongly denounced the military escalation in Darfur, urging “an immediate cessation of all military operations in order to de-escalate the situation, address the growing ethnic violence, allow access to humanitarian aid and prevent further deterioration that could lead to a large-scale conflict.”
UNITAMS reminded all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, to ensure the safety and protection of civilians.
“The crimes and violations committed during this conflict will not be ignored”, the statement continued, adding that the Sudanese people “deserve peace, security, and the utmost respect for their human rights.”
‘Shocking’ reports from North Darfur
Violent clashes in and around camps for displaced people in North Darfur have killed over 100 people there, UN refugee agency (UNHCR) chief Filippo Grandi tweeted on Thursday.
He also described as “shocking” the reports of sexual violence against women and girls in the region. He warned that this will worsen unless the warring generals agree to end “a fight that is destroying Sudan“.