Sudan: Bodies of at Least 87 People, Including Children Found in Darfur – UN

Harare — The United Nations (UN) human rights office has said that a mass grave containing at least 87 persons, including members of the ethnic Masalit group,was discovered in West Darfur, Sudan, and that it had reliable information pointing to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) as the perpetrators.

Officials from RSF insisted that the paramilitary organisation was not involved in the war in West Darfur and denied any involvement.

Bloodshed fueled by ethnicity has increased over the past few weeks in tandem with fighting between opposing military units that started in April. Witnesses and human rights organisations in El Geneina have described waves of attacks by the RSF and Arab militias against the non-Arab Masalit people, including close-range gunshots, according to the report.

Between June 20 and 21, locals were forced to bury the remains, including those of women and children, in a shallow grave in a public space close to the city, according to the UN statement. It claimed that several of the victims had passed away from untreated wounds.

“Local people were forced to dispose of the bodies in a mass grave, denying those killed a decent burial in one of the city’s cemeteries. At least 37 bodies were buried on 20 June in the approximately one-metre-deep mass grave in an open area called Al-Turab Al Ahmar (Red Soil), in the Ranga area, about two to four kilometres northwest of the headquarters of the Central Reserve Police in western El-Geneina, sources said. Another 50 bodies were buried at the same site on 21 June. The bodies of seven women and seven children were among those buried,” read the statement.

Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, urged the RSF and other those fighting to abide by international law and permit and facilitate prompt searches for the dead, their collection, and evacuation without discrimination based on ethnicity.

“I condemn in the strongest terms the killing of civilians and hors de combat individuals, and I am further appalled by the callous and disrespectful way the dead, along with their families and communities, were treated,” said UN. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk in the same statement, calling for an investigation.

According to witnesses, access to and burial of the deceased have typically taken a long time, resulting in numerous remains being left in the streets for days on end.

The High Commissioner urged the RSF leadership to denounce and put a halt to killings, as well as to violence and hate speech directed at individuals based on their ethnicity.

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