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HRW: Security Council must strengthen UN presence in Sudan


With the pending closure of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), and replacement by a special envoy, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) should urgently consider ways to strengthen the UN’s presence in Sudan that could deter further atrocities and better protect civilians in Darfur, Human Rights Watch (HRW) pleads in a statement issued yesterday.

In a new report entitled Sudan: New Mass Ethnic Killings, Pillage in Darfur, HRW urges the UN Security Council to act to protect civilians, and punish abusive Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commanders.

In the report issued form the Kenyan capital Nairobi yesterday, HRW points out that “the RSF killed hundreds of civilians in West Darfur in early November 2023,” and that “the RSF’s latest episode of ethnically targeted killings in West Darfur, has the hallmarks of an organised campaign of atrocities against Massalit civilians”.

HRW urges the UNSC to “urgently strengthen the UN’s presence in Sudan to prevent further atrocities and better protect civilians in Darfur”.

Given the pending closure of the UN mission in Sudan, and replacement by a special envoy, the UNSC should support monitoring of human rights abuses there and expand the existing arms embargo to cover the entire country and all parties to the ongoing armed conflict, HRW urges.

“African members of the Security Council, the United Arab Emirates, and other governments on the council should support these and other measures to ensure the UN’s most powerful body is able to fulfil its responsibility to protect civilians in West Darfur and the rest of Sudan,” the report pleads.

According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), an estimated 800 people were killed during the early November attacks in Ardamata. Local rights monitors interviewed survivors arriving in Chad and estimated the death toll of mainly civilians at between 1,300 and 2,000, including dozens killed on the road to Chad. At least 8,000 people have fled into Chad, joining around 450,000, mostly women and children, displaced by attacks in West Darfur notably between April and June.

HRW interviewed 20 Massalit people who fled Ardamata to eastern Chad between November 1-10, including 3 SAF (SAF) soldiers, who described a spree of killings, shelling, unlawful detentions, sexual violence, ill-treatment, and looting. All interviewees are identified by pseudonyms for their protection.HRW also analysed 8 videos and images posted on social media that show the Rapid Support Forces detaining over 200 men and boys in Ardamata. One video shows the fighters beating a group of men.

HRW says it shared a letter with the Rapid Support Forces, sharing findings and questions, but received no response before the date of publishing.

Satellite imagery taken the first week of November shows the impact of the shelling on civilian and military infrastructure as well as looting and arson in and around the Ardamata displaced people’s camp. Satellite imagery also shows possible new graves and bodies in the street.

Conflict broke out on April 15 in Sudan between the country’s two military forces, the SAF and the Rapid Support Forces. Between April and June, the Rapid Support Forces and allied militia led waves of assaults against majority-Massalit neighbourhoods of El Geneina, as well as other towns and villages in the region, targeting civilians on a large scale.

Ongoing HRW research and media reports indicate that they killed civilians by the thousands, burned whole neighbourhoods and sites where displaced people had found refuge in El Geneina, looted on a grand scale, and raped women and girls. These attacks forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of civilians, with thousands seeking refuge in Ardamata. Ardamata hosts both a SAF base and an internally displaced people’s camp.


Read the complete report Sudan: New Mass Ethnic Killings, Pillage in Darfur here



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